10 March 2017

GeneralTHE Salvation Army Retired Officers’ Association (SAROA) celebrated its 85th annual reunion with special guests General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries), accompanied by USA National leaders Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffrey and USA Southern territorial leaders Commissioners Don and Debi Bell. Including members from all four USA territories, SAROA is the biggest retired officers' organisation in the world. This year's gathering at St Petersburg Corps (church) in Florida, attended by more than 400 members, was the largest for some time. 

The association's president, Lieut-Colonel Don Canning, guided the programme despite the loss of his mother-in-law, Commissioner Ruth Osborne OF, only a day before.

Commissioner Cox spoke in the opening session, sharing how an unwanted puppy brought home by one of their children became an important tool in God’s work. 'The experiences we have,' she said, 'help us to trust God, realising that he knows best even in the little details of our lives.'

In the second session the General and Commissioner Cox gave a review of Salvation Army work in countries they have visited. An offering was taken to provide funding for retired officers in the developing world and there was a roll call of officers promoted to Glory in 2016 from each USA territory.

A worship meeting on Saturday morning included the testimony of Bandmaster Nathan Farrell that concluded with a seven-trombone arrangement of 'Going Home' from Dvořák’s 'New World' Symphony. Following Commissioner Cox’s explanation of The Whole World Mobilising app, the General opened the Word of God.

Trombone septet

'In a world of constant communication,' he said, 'it is becoming increasingly difficult to be heard ... Even prayer too often is a one-way street with us doing all the talking but failing to listen to what God has to say. Our challenge is to filter out what is unnecessary and hear what is important.'

He reminded his listeners: 'We must listen to what God is saying. God not only speaks at a specific time but throughout our lives. We never stop learning ... God is faithful. It is for us to give him wholehearted commitment, all of our heart, all of our ways so we are totally given to God.'

Inspired and refreshed, the retired officers travelled back to their home corps mobilised for the ministries in which each is engaged.

The mobilising theme was re-emphasised the next day, when the international leaders led worship at St Petersburg Corps. People of all ages knelt at the mercy seat in response to the General's challenge not to 'sit here satisfied as a worshipping people' but rather 'to share the gospel and serve a world in need'.

Report by Lieut-Colonel Allen Satterlee

Tags: Americas and Caribbean, The General