What is the state of the territory?

by Commissioner Evie Diaz
Territorial Commander

During my first several months as territorial commander, I have often been asked, “What’s different?,” “What do you see?” or “What does the future look like for the territory?” I’ve heard a lot of questions!

Because I’m back home, there are familiar places and faces as I travel. But after seven years away, I’m aware of differences—new ministries and new faces. I celebrate and rejoice in God’s continued, but ever-evolving, work across the Central Territory.

What do I see?

I see people praying, as reflected in the January prayer initiative and other prayer focuses locally in corps. I see lives changed because people are meeting Jesus on Sundays and throughout the week in our corps, adult rehabilitation centers and through social service ministry. I see cadets excited about Jesus and His calling on their lives.

I see corps finding innovative ways to reach communities and share the love of Jesus. Leaders are encouraged to be creative in their programming and are finding freedom to think differently about programs and outreach.

Pathway of Hope continues to be a powerful initiative where families experience stability and hope.
Whether through pastoral care conversations or invitations to participate in parenting and skill-development classes, youth programming and/or corps gatherings, POH is a means of presenting and living out the gospel. Individuals and families are finding Jesus.

Across the territory, retired officers are actively engaged as candidates’ secretaries, emergency disaster services workers, pastoral care officers and in the day-to-day life of their corps. I see them as a valuable resource.

Some corps have closed, it’s true. Quite a few of those have been transformed into 360 Life Centers or Service Extension Units where people’s needs are met both practically and spiritually. The Salvation Army has not left those communities.

Youth programming is alive and well, although in many places it does not look like our traditional programs. Character-building, junior soldiers and corps cadets are still effective in numerous corps. In others, youth programs and activities have been reimagined to meet the needs of their community. New partnerships have provided grants, volunteer teachers and mentors, and resources to support youth development. Young people are still learning about Jesus through discipleship training, teaching and one-on-one relationships.

We continue to be Jesus to both the stranger and our neighbor in times of need and crisis. Whether it is a migrant family, a disaster survivor or a struggling rural family, the love and kindness of Jesus is expressed through our congregational and social service ministries. Gracious welcoming congregations are helping new Americans find a spiritual home. Adult rehabilitation centers continue to proclaim and prioritize the powerful and lifechanging message of the gospel.

And there’s more: I see a strong focus on leadership development for officers through certificate programs and initiatives. The Territorial Soldiers’ Forum listens to local congregations and shares the heart of the territory with leaders. One division is focusing on “God Conversations.” Corps are finding their impact strengthened through community partnerships.

Evaluation of the impact of Mission Imperatives and Project Advance continues, and I assure you, information will be shared with the territory soon. I’m grateful for the territorial and divisional leaders who work alongside me and share the privilege of serving the Central Territory.

What’s ahead? I expect God to continue to work in the territory. I hope you do too! Together, let’s anticipate the Holy Spirit moving in our lives and our ministry. Let’s find freedom in trying new and innovative methods to preach the gospel and meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Join me in praying for more people to respond to the gospel invitation and to serve Him in The Salvation Army. Finally, I expect spiritual fruitfulness will be evident across the territory because individually and corporately we are listening to and obeying God’s call to know, love and serve Him more and more.

 

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