Getting to know Lt. Colonels Jonathan and Barbara Rich

From their favorite appointment to their leadership style to their bucket list, here’s the scoop on our new territorial program secretaries.

Could you briefly introduce yourselves and in a nutshell what you’re all about?

Barb: We’re fifth generation Salvationists. Jon was born in New York City, and I in Chicago. We love big cities, especially those on the water.

The Central Territory’s rock group “Crossfire” and Eastern Territory’s Star Lake Camp staff provided two summers for us to fall in love. After nearly 38 years of marriage and ministry, we can say life is interesting when opposites attract; we cover all eight letters of the Myers’ Briggs Inventory.

Jon’s passion is Christian leadership and strategic change management. Mine is developing a team to conquer a task. I’m more of a risk-taker than I ever believed possible.

Our parenting journey required long waits and God’s intervention. Along the way, God blessed us with a boy and a girl—seven and a half years apart—and a deeper walk with Him. It’s quite an adventure to follow the course God has set for your life.

What is the most rewarding aspect of officership for you?

Jon: I’m passionate about urban ministry and serving those who are marginalized. Gospel-centered service to suffering humanity is at the center of my calling.

Barb: Representing Christ to a large and diverse segment of society and being trusted by them, from individuals experiencing homelessness to those whose homes are on the historic register. People need the Lord, and officers often have greater access to a myriad of people because of our organization and uniforms whether at a disaster, a fundraiser or a feeding program.

Has any particular appointment resonated with you more than the others? Why?

Jon: We loved being area commanders in Memphis and North Texas because we had an opportunity to lead “one Army on many fronts,” impacting an entire metropolitan area.

Barb: I loved being a territorial candidates’ secretary and having deep, one-on-one conversations that allowed me to get to know people and help them discover what God was calling them to. First and foremost, to be solid, Christ-followers and then to figure out why God wired them as He had.

We’ve just commissioned the Messengers of the Kingdom; if you could go back in time what advice would you give yourselves as new lieutenants?

Jon: Seek the welfare/shalom of the city (Jeremiah 29:7). The Salvation Army was birthed in the largest city on earth at the time. The urban centers of our country are where we are most relevant. Embrace John Wesley’s dictum: “The world is my parish.” An officer is a community leader in ways pastors of churches typically will never be. Lean into your unique role in the community and embrace your citywide parish.

Barb: Remember, it’s God’s work, so try not to get in His way. Humble yourself. Become involved in regular Bible study with accountability; it will refresh your soul and give you sustenance for the long haul. Be brave and authentic enough to share what God is doing in your life. You’ll be amazed at the God-ordained conversations that arise.

How would describe your philosophy of leadership?

Jon: I love having smarter people than myself on my team. I’m very collaborative and want to make decisions that are reached collaboratively and informed by data. I desperately need a pipeline of reality from field officers. Max Dupree said the first job of a leader is to define reality. I can’t do that from Territorial Headquarters without input from the frontlines.

Barb: I believe leadership done well involves developing a great team where trust and truth-telling are expected and celebrated.

Most recently you’ve been leading one of the largest commands in the nation—which should be no surprise, it’s in Texas—what were the challenges and blessings?

Jon: Incredible blessings. The best advisory board in the Army world. Incredible corporate partnerships with the Dallas Cowboys, BNSF Railways, AT&T, Atmos Energy and others. The founding chapter of Echelon, the best women’s auxiliary in the nation, great corps officers leading 14 corps and, what I am most proud of, the best professional staff leadership team, bar none. The biggest challenge was living up to the high expectations we were rightly held to.

Barb, we find it interesting that you have worked both in fundraising and in elementary education. What appealed to you about each and do they have anything in common?

Barb: Fundraising and education are both deeply relational at their core. When done well they require a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) to bring donors and students to the point of wanting to know and  appreciate what you know.

When I take a donor on a tour of a social service program and tell them of the transformational change in people’s lives, I often choke up. It never gets old. As a teacher, I loved nothing greater than read-aloud times when I had a front row seat to students growing in their skills of observation as a plot or characters developed. I loved helping them develop stronger character and imagination; the best development people do the same for donors.

And, Jon, how has your degree in business, internship on Wall Street and work with Price Waterhouse served your ministry?

Jon: I have two incredible experiences I bring to my second calling to Salvation Army officership. My business background and 13 years as an executive pastor for a church that went from meeting in a school to five campuses today. My business background is relevant no matter where I serve. There is always a budget and the need to be “Doing the Most Good” with every dollar. When I look at a financial statement, it tells me a story and gives me data I need to make good decisions. The experience we had in the “church world” allows us to have an outsider’s eyes with an insider’s perspective.

What are you looking forward to most to about being back in the Central Territory?

Both: Reuniting with old friends. Digging into ministry alongside committed and passionate Christ-followers whom we’ve called friends for years. Being on a leadership team with friends who know us and trust us—a huge blessing. Making new friends and growing deep roots with them.

Would you share with us about your family?

Barb: Drew lives in Kansas City, is married to Chelsea and is father to Sloan Charlotte (almost 2) and Cooper Leigh (2 months). Our daughter, Allie, will be leaving Michigan to join us. She hopes to return to work training therapy and service dogs, but you can also find her in any pasture that has a horse. She’s fearless and, if given the opportunity, would ride bare-back. My mom also will be relocating to the northwest suburbs. She hasn’t lived in the area since she and my dad retired in 1987 as Metropolitan divisional leaders but is pleased to be coming home.

Are you happy to make the switch from brisket to deep dish pizza?

Barb: Absolutely! We’ve moved from Kansas City to Memphis to Texas. Our next home really should have been in the Carolinas to finish the BBQ circuit. Oh well, I love deep dish pizza more.

What word of encouragement would you give to soldiers and officers in the Central Territory who’ve been affected by and are ministering to others during the pandemic?

Jon: We will get through this. God is bigger than the crisis, and He has delivered His people through worse times than this. If we trust in Him and surrender to Him, we will be stronger on the other side. In Isaiah 41:10 God tells His people: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Staying in place for so long, we’ve all been dreaming of our bucket lists. What’s on yours?

Jon: Riding our bikes along Lake Michigan. The last time was over 30 years ago!

Barb: Returning to Paris, fitting in our Footsteps of Paul Biblical Education Tour that was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey, hiking in the Canadian Rockies and along the Rio Grande in Big Bend, Texas. I’d say learning to speak Spanish and French but that’s ridiculous if you’ve ever heard me attempt even a basic accent! My bucket list includes finishing well.

 

 

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