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Volume 26 No.5

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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March 31, 2009

 

 


the general

The early morning is a strange time. It can
be filled with positive expectation or deep
apprehension. How are you, early in the
morning?
The 15th chapter of Mark’s Gospel opens with the
words, Very early in the morning (New International
Version), and then goes on to tell us what took place
in those history-splitting pre-dawn moments. The
Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, had been arrested
in the night by Jerusalem temple guards who had
known where to find him because his close friend
and follower, Judas, had betrayed him for 30 pieces
of silver.
His yet more trusted friend, Peter, had
openly denied even knowing him. The High Priest
in Jerusalem questioned Jesus in public, and judicial
condemnation soon followed.

“Very early in the morning,” Jesus, your Savior and
mine, was handed over to the Roman occupying forces
for final judgment. The governor, Pilate, interrogated
Jesus but could extract no replies. Jesus was like an
innocent, defenseless lamb led to the slaughter. By this
stage he did not even open his mouth to speak. Urged
on by the early morning crowd, Pilate delivered Jesus
to the executioners. To curry favor with the subjugated
but volatile citizens, the governor then released from


prison a known killer, their compatriot, Barabbas.
All of this “early morning” action was but a
precursor to Golgotha, the place where Jesus would
die. They mocked and abused him first. They thrust
a crown made of long thorny spikes onto his sacred
forehead. They offered him sarcastic homage. Then
came history’s most tragic, poignant walk – all the
way, outside the city walls, to Golgotha on Calvary Hill.

 


image sally house

Opening a
new Sallie House

cafe 614

Cafe 614
Intercultural

Intercultural
ministry initiative

     

 

Very early in the morning
An Easter message by General Shaw Clifton
Continued from above.

“There, with two common thieves, Jesus was put to death by crucifixion, a cruel and exceptional punishment by today’s standards. They hammered nails into his hands and feet, then raised him up on the cross to hang in slow suffocation as his body slumped downward. At the very end, six hours later, he muttered words to his Father in Heaven asking
forgiveness for his persecutors.

“Very early in the morning” is a good time to ponder these events. Jesus himself was accustomed to rising early in the morning to seek out the presence
and the face of God the Father. Pre-dawn, for some, is a time for dubious deeds. It
was like that for the arresting guards and their masters.

It was as though their plotting needed to be done in secret and completed in a hurry. The goodness of Jesus was to them a threat, not a blessing. How do you see it all? In the stillness and objectivity that come “very early in the morning,” how does it all look to you? Do the events of that night and the next day, as recorded in the Scriptures, arouse your emotions? Do you feel the ugliness and injustice of it?

Do you feel the tragedy and pity of it? Yet at the same time there is another dimension to our responses, a subtle sense of gratitude that it happened, a growing sensation deep within, witnessing to our personal realization that Jesus knew exactly what he was doing.

He faced it all with determination – for our sakes! It was all out of holy love for the fallen human race! “Very early in the morning” we begin to see also the growing light of a new dawn. It is the glow of the Resurrection morning and the empty tomb. Calvary was a beginning – not an ending! It is good to come to Calvary early in the morning.

It is always good to come to the Lord early in the day, each and every day. Now, our Risen and Ascended Lord awaits our approach, and a smile of loving approval comes early to his face.

I pray that his smile and his forgiveness may rest upon each one of us this Good Friday and this Easter Day.

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SaliieYoungster’s compassion was catalyst for new Sallie House facility

Andrew Piazza, clutching his piggy
bank and tugging at his parents’
comforter, was earnest in his plea to
help children less fortunate than he. It
was the early morning of Christmas Eve,
and Andrew, 5, had awakened with a
strong feeling that help was needed,
and fast! So there commenced a truly
remarkable story.

Steve and Angela Piazza
acknowledged their son’s insistent cries
and headed to the toy store. After their
shopping spree, they set off for the one
orphanage they knew of in the Tampa
Bay area. It was closed when they
arrived. A policeman suggested they
try the Sallie House, a safe haven for
children exposed to domestic violence
and abusive family situations.

After they found Sallie House,
delivered the gifts and visited with
the children there, the Piazzas
returned home. On the way, Steve
Piazza discussed with his wife how
cramped and seemingly inadequate
the conditions were. They both agreed
that the Piazza family should offer more
help during the year.

The dedicated staff of Sallie House
is ready 24 hours a day, seven days a
week to provide abruptly displaced
children the care they need. In the
words of The Salvation Army’s director
of children services, “If child welfare
were a hospital, then Sallie House
would be the emergency room.”
Sallie House is a safe haven for
children up to 11 years of age who
have been removed from their
home because of abuse, neglect or
abandonment. Children may stay
there for only a few hours or as long
as several months – until they can be
safely reunited with parents, placed
with relatives, taken into a foster home
or adopted by a loving family.

 

In the 18 years since it opened, Sallie House has sheltered more than 1,600 children.

The St. Petersburg Area Command
asked Steve to become involved in
the effort to build a new Sallie House
and endow the program that was first
conceived by then area commander
Major Jim Farrell. He agreed and
was soon made the chairman of the
Sallie House capital campaign. Steve
Piazza quickly realized that the original
facility could no longer meet the high
standard of care The Salvation Army
is committed to delivering for these
children.

In early March, just over five years
since that memorable Christmas
Eve for the Piazza family, Steve was
sharing about his family’s life-changing
experience outside the main entrance
of the new Sallie House, just minutes
before Commissioner Max Feener,
USA Southern territorial commander,
dedicated the property to the glory of
God.

Feener dedicated the Sallie House
before a large crowd of invited guests,
including divisional leaders Lt. Colonels
Vern and Martha Jewett, other DHQ
staff and Majors George and Holly
Patterson of St. Petersburg Area
Command. The building is dedicated
to Bob and Margaret Keelean. Bob
Keelean was acknowledged as the giver
of the largest single individual gift, made
in his wife’s memory.

“This is a place where (children)
are rescued, made safe, nurtured,
brought back to God,” Feener said in
his dedicatory address. He referred to
the scriptural definition of dedication
as a cleansing, setting something apart
for special use. This was certainly the
case with the opening of the new Sallie
House. As the ribbon was cut, the
territorial commander said that the new
Sallie House must offer the children a
place to be safe, loved and encouraged,
and a foundation that will enable them
to express their God-given potential.

Chris Priest

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corey

 

Service to others is foundation of cafe ministry

The late radio show host, Paul Harvey, said the 614 Café that’s part of the St. Petersburg Downtown Corpsin Florida gives homeless men and women “a taste of
normalcy.”

At the 614 Café, the down-and-out are treated with dignity; the 250 customers who frequent the café daily are served in ceramic mugs. Café patrons get a tasty snack, soft background music, comfortable chairs and a hot cup of Joe – served up in a glass mug for free.

Not only does the glassware communicate that each person is worthy of sitting down, relaxing and having a conversation, but it also serves the environment by putting less Styrofoam into landfills.

One of the fundamental beliefs of café operators and downtown corps officers, Sergeants Cory and Laura Harrison, is that the gospel must be conveyed holistically. That means putting emphasis on social concerns such as taking care of the environment and serving coffee that is guaranteed fair-trade.


The downtown corps mission statement is “to see the broken repaired, the hurting healed and the desperate enjoying hope.” Hope, healing and restoration are communicated verbally when Cory shares a 10-minute morning devotional for café customers. However, actions put a stamp on his words because he and Laura haven’t just opened a café that operates six days a week from 9-11:30 a.m.
They have also opened their home, 24/7.

“When we moved here, we realized there’s a population of people for whom society thinks the answer is, ‘Get a job.’ People get a job and are fine for a few weeks until the first paycheck goes to their addiction,” said Cory.

The Harrisons’ solution is to invite addicts who are serious about recovery to live with them, volunteer by serving at the café, and attend Bible studies held at the
café after it closes at lunchtime. “Addictions are self-centered; serving people is the
best thing you can do. Serve coffee to people who don’t appreciate it or are in worse-off conditions than you are. Jesus was about coming to serve, not being served,” he said.

Jason Cannady was a week-and-a-half sober when he came to the café. He had heard about it because he was staying at the Salvation Army shelter in St. Petersburg. He had attempted detox programs before, but never succeeded. His wife had just left him, and he has two children.

Cory posed a question, “What if you just decided to detox from life? Don’t get a job. Don’t find a house. Come, live here. Embrace community because with
community comes accountability.” Jason is now six months sober, volunteering at the café, pursuing reconciliation with his wife and spending more time with his children. He is also interested in working full-time for The Salvation Army in the future.

“What we found in our community is it doesn’t work to ask, ‘If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?’ Everybody at some point has made a commitment in their life; they are saved as the church would consider salvation, but they aren’t saved from selfishness, pride, addiction. God created Jason to live a life of freedom and service, and he wasn’t on that path. Now he is. We’ve wrapped Christianity up into … What does it mean to be saved right now? That is where we challenge people – are you living the life God wants you to live today?”

For Booth Jewett, one of several café interns from within the U.S. and as far away as Italy and New Zealand, living the life God called him to live wasn’t the issue. It was finding an environment where he felt he could fulfill that calling.

Although raised in the church and by Salvation Army officer parents, Jewett became disenfranchised with the church; he craved mission, but lost his way trying
to find it. When he was invited to join the team working at the café, Jewett began to find his faith again – in the church and in The Salvation Army.

“This is a good example of how people in the church can also be saved,” said Cory. “What if I’m not an addict or I’m not homeless? What if I am just disillusioned with the church? Catherine Booth said, ‘Christianity is heroism.’ What we do at our corps is provide people the opportunity to do something bigger than ourselves.”

Brooke Turbyfill

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intercultural

 

 

Intercultural Ministries Iniciative

One of the central declarations of our Territorial Mission Statement is that Salvationists of the Southern Territory are committed to “love inclusively.” That commitment affects how we live out our mission on many levels, but none is more essential and timely than how we live inclusively within the cultural diversity of our communities. Due to a relatively recent influx of diversity into the southeastern U.S., the Southern Territory is now rich in cultural and ethnic expressions. For this reason, our territorial leadership has given prayerful consideration to how God’s Spirit would lead us forward to embrace all men and women equally in our ministry. The territorial commander commissioned an ad hoc committee to report on the present reality of multicultural ministry and make recommendations to implement the broadest and most decisive plan for the formation of corps that reflect the dynamic of Kingdom culture.

Following the submission of the ad hoc committe report, it was agreed that officers making up the Territorial Executive Council should be the first to undergo a cultural-sensitivity awareness training. Dr. James Waller, a professor from Whitworth College and noted writer and speaker on racism and prejudice in America, will lead the training.

With this heart-opening understanding, God’s direction for the territory began to take shape. Emerging from the report was a vision infused with energy and apprehension. The energy was created by its rightness and timeliness, while the apprehension was caused by the challenge of moving the territory from the present reality to a more accurate expression of God’s eternal mission.

That vision, the model for the Southern Territory, is named “interculturalism.” It is a vision of a Salvation Army ministry that reflects diversity in every expression
of its Kingdom-building. While affirming cultural distinctives, interculturalism lifts up the highest ideals of Kingdom culture, making corps more receptive to all
cultures and challenging corps to fully reflect the cultures of the surrounding community.

More importantly, interculturalism is a description of disciple-making that will enable Kingdom-enriched programs to evolve. It is the goal to which all corps should be striving. As the majority of Southern corps are shaped by the more long-standing Anglo/European cultures, the most significant goal will be for those corps to overcome the fear of losing their identity as they transition to the more contemporary reality of diversity. As new first-generation immigrants continue to make their way to the South, ministries geared to those immigrants will continue to be needed. Some corps must be focused on the unique needs of this group of people – a sense of belonging, learning English and becoming familiar with the American way of life. First-Generation corps would serve as a “first step” to interculturalism, intentionally moving in that direction.

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