by Captain Karen Holness
The St. Louis Euclid, Mo., Corps has served its community on the city’s north side for more than 125 years. Key to its longevity and effectiveness is the individual and collective commitment of its soldiers to live out the gospel as disciples of Christ.
Last year when territorial leaders Commissioners Brad and Heidi Bailey introduced the Mission Imperative of “More people, more like Jesus,” it resonated with the corps’ soldiers, who already were suited up and on the battlefield. In fact, as a traditional African-American corps, “I am on the battlefield for my Lord” is the rallying cry, which was formerly led by retired Songster Leader Jimmy McGowans and now by Bandmaster William “Bim” Cox in many worship settings.
The corps’ soldiers reflect the imperative’s leadership focus marked by being Spirit-led, inspired, engaged and sacrificially serving with accountability. To ensure accountability in carrying out The Salvation Army’s mission, they wrote a corps mission statement that says the St. Louis Euclid Corps will be a “welcoming church, providing a holistic ministry to our community through intentional youth development, integration of spiritual and social services, and providing a positive influence toward community growth and development.”
Our soldiers can be counted on to show up to help with disaster relief, to ring bells at kettles and distribute toys during Christmas, to cook and serve community meals, to sort and distribute food and other necessities for the pantry and mobile market, to encourage and pray with community members as part of the pastoral care team and to lead worship and preach on Sundays. Local leadership is at the helm of our corps making a difference in people’s lives and the community for Christ.
We are blessed to have many men who serve in its ranks. Corps Sergeant-Major (CSM) Benny White is a strong support to us as corps officers and gives this body of believers direction and encouragement. During the Territorial Authentic Mission Engagement weekend in 2016, he received the Certificate in Recognition of Exceptional Service, acknowledging his service to the community, particularly to the youth. Assistant CSM Kelvin Stewart is a blessing to corps, supporting it wherever needed. Bandmaster Bim Cox not only leads our eclectic band but teaches adult Sunday school (which he fortifies with the best donuts), serves in our monthly community mobile market and is a jack of all trades in building maintenance.
They are flanked by a team of extraordinary men like Artemus “Temo” Wallace who is the recruiting sergeant, participates in emergency disaster services and volunteers in many other ways. He received the Lifetime Service Territorial Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019. William Murphy leads men’s club and Bible study and is an ardent preacher of God’s Word. Don Taylor keeps us connected with integral neighborhood partnerships and contacts, while Randy Bush faithfully provides transportation to the corps both ways on Sundays so children and families can participate in fellowship, learning and worship.
The women of the corps have equal impact. Cynthia L. Williams is our young people’s sergeant-major (YPSM) and community outreach director but also assists with serving our older adults and in women’s ministries. She and assistant YPSM Karen Whitelove lead youth in Sunday school, afterschool and community center programs. Brenda Murphy, co-Bible study leader and corps treasurer, heads our stewardship efforts with weekly biblical encouragement for personal and sacrificial giving. Dorothy Sledge serves as our community care ministries secretary and as a Sunday school teacher. Ossie Wallace and Kristen Holness not only lead music but pitch in wherever needed. Soldier Debra Nicholson has headed our social services for 10 years, a feat rarely matched. Even our junior soldiers play a part, packaging the War Cry and gifts for nursing home visits, sorting pantry items and ringing bells at the Christmas kettle.
In speaking about the territory’s Mission Imperative, Commissioner Barry Swanson, who led the process, said, “The soldier base is especially critical…It’s very important that it touches them, that they feel empowered and mobilized to be bold and do something different in the expression of practical ministry.”
This has been true for the soldiers of the St. Louis Euclid Corps and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit will continue for years to come.