You are in: Southern Spirit » 1 February 2007 » Insert...


Send this page to a friend Email envolope

ALM Division

33 Corps in Division



community centers

  • 14 in Alabama
  • 7 in Louisiana
  • 12 in Mississippi


Metro Area

Standing strong in Alabama,

Louisiana and Mississippi

he phrase "no rest for the weary" could well be applied to the officers and soldiers serving in the Alabama Louisiana Mississippi Division. Corps and ministries throughout the division have been hard at work since much of the region was struck by devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the late summer of 2005. In their tireless service, these dedicated Salvationists have found that there is indeed rest for the weary - in the arms of the everlasting Father who breathes life into their actions of compassion, prayers of grace and dedication to discipleship. He is enabling them to do more than simply pick up the pieces. The floodgates of incarnational ministry have opened, and He is leading them through the waters to minister healing and hope.




  • 2 in Alabama
  • 1 in Louisiana
  • 1 in Mississippi


Divisional Leaders


John & Arduth Jones




1450 Riverside Drive

Jackson, Miss. 39202

(601) 969-7560

Treasured Gems:

92 and counting

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff

ith his bright, witty sense of humor and meticulous memory, retired Brigadier Luther Smith shines to all who know him. At 92 years old, Smith stays active by serving on several community advisory boards and at the Birmingham, Ala., Area Command two and a half days a week. His life of service to the Army tells the story of a man who has influenced many through his faithfulness, hard work and positive attitude.

Born in Atlanta on July 4, 1914, Smith enjoyed being the only child for the first seven years of life until his younger brother was born. Raised in Anniston, Ala., Smith - who was active in high school football and track - said his commitment to Christ came when he confessed having stolen a team football during his senior year of high school. Soon after, Smith attended a Salvation Army meeting and heard the stories of eight cadets. "Those men had a sense of direction and joy in what they were doing," said Smith, "and I was drawn to that." And so began his journey into the Army.

Smith was enrolled as a soldier on May 6, 1935, and he entered the training college in Atlanta on Sept. 8 of that year. He was commissioned in 1936 to Griffin, Ga. Asked what he remembers about that first appointment, Smith said he was a probationary lieutenant who learned to keep his suitcase packed because he moved around often. He also illustrated the influence that visitation can have on a community. Griffin "was a mill community. If the cotton mill did well, people survived. If there was a strike or something, they did poorly. You'd begin to visit homes of people and get to know them. They would share with you what their joys were and what their sorrows were. What we did was try to be there for them."

That habit of "being there" would dictate the remainder of Smith's service alongside his late wife, Jewel, whom he married in 1939. Throughout appointments in Griffin and Macon, Ga.; Dallas; Johnson City, Tenn.; Washington; Charlotte, N.C.; Mexico City; Nashville, Tenn.; Lawton and Oklahoma City; and Birmingham, Ala., where his final appointment was as area commander for eight years, Smith's dedication to disaster work was obvious. He was called to "be there" when tornadoes struck Gainesville, Ga.; when two ships exploded in Texas City, Texas; when a hurricane devastated Trujillo, Honduras, and when an earthquake shook Tecpan, Guatemala. In fact, Smith is still making his mark simply by "being there" at the Birmingham Area Command, where he serves the current area commander, Major John Carter. Carter called Smith "the epitome of a Salvation Army officer."

Smith is happily married to his wife of three years, Esther, and said he is pleased with his lifetime of service. But he is quick to praise The Salvation Army. "I'm 92. If I were 20 tomorrow, I would join The Salvation Army just as quickly. It gave me - a meager person - a skill, and I was able to do an amazing amount of good in a lifetime."






Saved to Serve:

Angie Williams' story of redemption and recovery

For the first time in her 41 years, Angie Guthrie Williams is telling her story of recovery from abuse, drugs and alcohol.

Hailing from Winnsboro, La., the first few years of Williams' life were much like that of any other young girl. A "daddy's little girl," her father was her hero. Her father fought in the Viet Nam War, and her mother became pregnant by another man after having an affair. Williams' father returned from war and filed for divorce, and for Williams, life slowly began a downward spiral.

Williams was devastated when her father moved away to Texas. "I never saw my dad again until I was about 13, and by then, he already had another family," she said, tears streaming down her face.

Williams' mother married a man who physically and sexually abused Williams and her brother. Williams never spoke of the abuse.

In August of 1983, Williams enrolled at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, and the abuse she had endured from her stepfather followed her. "I finally told him ‘no more,' and I waited by my back door with a gun. I waited for him to show up, but he never did."

Williams then turned to drinking, and it became a familiar release. "I also started smoking marijuana, but I was functional," she said. In 1989, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English education. After securing a job as a sales representative, Williams soon lost it because of her addiction.

Following a turbulent seven years that included heavy drinking, an abusive relationship, marriage, the birth of her son, Tyler, and a prescription drug addiction, Williams' wake-up call came after she lost her husband, son, house and job. "I lost everything within a matter of three weeks," Williams said, "and I was sleeping in a broken down truck on the side of the road."

Eventually, through someone she met at Alcoholics Anonymous, Williams found The Salvation Army in Alexandria, La. "As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I was where I was supposed to be," she said.

Williams found a place to rest her head at the Beauregard Street Women's Shelter. She later gained employment at The Salvation Army as a seasonal disaster employee after Hurricane Rita. Captain Todd Brewer commended her skills, saying, "She has been with us ever since."

Williams also gained a relationship with the Lord after she started attending the corps. "I noticed over the course of a few weeks, just in her face, that something was going on," said Brewer. "The Holy Spirit was at work in her life."

Williams has since married a fellow employee of The Salvation Army and is pursuing her master's degree. Although she has led a rough life, Williams says she now knows why. "I know that if I can help even just one person, that's the reason I went through everything."



The Lord is using the Pascagoula Corps to increase His kingdom

he first six months of Captains Andy and Michelle Collette's appointment to the Pascagoula Corps can be called anything but normal. Still in the midst of recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the corps could be described as transitional. "After Katrina we were the only agency left in town to provide traditional services to the community; the other shelters were destroyed or damaged by the storm," said Captain Andy Collette. "Due to the migration of residents to other parts of the coast, the corps was left with about four or five regulars for programs."

Instead of seeing these challenges as obstacles, the Collettes embraced the opportunity as a providential placement for effective ministry. Because of the crunch for affordable and livable housing in Pascagoula, the Collettes expanded the availability of beds for the transitional shelter program from 10 to 40. The shelter meets the clients' physical and spiritual needs. Dinner is served during the week, and on weekends the shelter serves lunch and dinner. Clients also have access to the computer lab to search for jobs and housing.

Over 40 people attend the corps for Sunday school and worship each week. They learn to study the Bible and they're taught the healing power of prayer. "We consistently encourage the soldiers, adherents and other consistent attendees to meet with and pray with clients in the shelter," said Captain Andy Collette. "This comes very naturally to most as they have lived in the shelter themselves and understand the needs of the clients."

While the ministry is fruitful, it also has its challenges. Every 60 to 90 days, clients in the transitional program graduate and move on to independent living. "It is like having an entirely new congregation every few weeks," said Captain Andy Collette.

The Apostle Paul faced a similar challenge in his ministry to the Corinthian church: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Whether visible or not, the Lord is definitely using the Pascagoula Corps to increase His kingdom.

Mark Jones

The Way We Were:

Meridian Learning Center prepares tomorrow's young leaders today

he Salvation Army in Meridian, Miss., just opened a new after-school learning and recreation center. Located in The Salvation Army community worship center, the new after-school program has a computer lab with six computers as well as instruction from Salvation Army staff and volunteers. The recreation center has several table and video games for young people's and is open daily from 3-6 p.m.

Major Don Wildish, corps officer at the Meridian Corps, attributes the vision for the center to Wanda Mingo, young people sergeant-major at the Meridian Corps. "Wanda makes things move. ...This is her vision. I just needed to give her the freedom to work and get out of the way," Major Wildish said.

When Majors Don and Helene Wildish arrived in Meridian last summer, they brought with them a passion for ministry to the young people of Meridian. As they prayed about the direction of the Corps, God began to "show us people who had a vision and passion for the young people of our community," Wildish added. "Wanda Mingo was one of them."

Mingo summed up her love for young people this way: "All children are gifts from God...‘Train up a child in the way he should go,'" she said. "I do not take that lightly."

The Meridian Learning Center is more than the vision of The Salvation Army; it flows from the desire of community leaders to positively affect the children of Meridian. Heather Rose Goodwin, governor's appointee to after-school programs, businesswoman Mary Peavey, and Mayor John Robert Smith all expressed their support and desire to see the center thrive and minister to the needs of children.

"We want the after school programs to be a great experience for the children. Once the festivities are over, the work begins. We ask the community to come help us help children," said Peavey.

Programs at the center aim to build character and spiritual growth. "We want to point children to a growing relationship with Christ," said Wildish.

Captain Stacie McWilliams, divisional corps cadet counselor for The Salvation Army's ALM Division said, "Without youth, where would we be? They are our hope for tomorrow."

Mark Jones

Photos, top to bottom: Youth enjoy the video games at the Meridian Corps. Students are given tutorial help as they use the computers to complete school projects and homework.


NOLA area commander rallies a corps at ROOTS-South 2007

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff

Major Mike Hawley (third from right), a seminar presenter at this year's ROOTS-South conference and area commander in New Orleans, led a team of six from the New Orleans Corps to learn how best to re-build the corps.

Hawley met informally with his team to inspire them about living authentically. As he spoke, Hawley related the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, who was led to the Lord simply because Philip was available. Hawley prayed, "Lord, we want to be available to You." He prompted the devoted six to consider availability beyond outreach. "As well as going out," he asked, "what do we do when we meet together?" When visitors step inside the corps, he said, they need to feel glad about taking that step.

Before the group separated to attend seminars, Hawley encouraged them with words about the scope of the Army and how they could make a difference. "We're not just a division. We're a territory. We're a country. We're a world. But it starts at home. If you're not ministering to your neighbor, [the Lord] is not going to send you across the world."



Come to Me:

The Salvation Army

Center of Hope lays the

groundwork for lasting change

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff

he Jackson, Miss., Center of Hope is helping men and women alter their lifestyle - one day at a time. Many who approach the Center of Hope's emergency shelter come because they are homeless and want to change. Pastor Lewis Bingham, the director of The Salvation Army Center of Hope, said there are multiple reasons a person ends up homeless. For some, it's because of unemployment; for others, an addiction to drugs or alcohol contributed to the homelessness.

Bingham said the center helps clients learn the difference between positive and negative choices. "We are not here to be codependent," said Bingham of the two-year-old program. That's why every person who wants to transition back into a stable self-supported lifestyle must meet strict guidelines.

Before a person can enter the transitional program, he has to serve five to eight days in the emergency shelter, which is offered at no cost to every client. There the clients are required to do assigned chores, make a list of goals they plan to accomplish, pass random drug testing, meet with a caseworker and abstain from conflict with others.

Another major requirement for entering the transitional program is obtaining a job. If a client meets certain conditions, he can be employed temporarily at the center's thrift store. Thrift store employment, working four to eight hours a day, lasts six weeks and allows clients to pay the program entrance fee of $100 and pay rent while they're in the facility. Clients can take skills classes such as GED, Bible and Celebrate Recovery courses. At the end of three months, only clients who have met their goals will graduate.

One such client is Richard Erdos, who moved into an apartment with two other graduates. He said Captain John Showers, corps officer in Jackson, and the Center of Hope made moving stress-free. "They provided us with dressers, beds, plates - everything you need." Showers still checks on them regularly even though they're living independently now. "He's like a second dad. He makes you feel like you're a part of something."

Brett Adams, a former graduate, said his return to alcoholism after a divorce was like a slow suicide. He said Showers' compassion helped him get back on track. "He absolutely cares."

The aim of the program, said Bingham, is to teach by example how to make small daily choices that add up to a long-term foundation of using wise judgment. "We try to make good decisions about our clients because that's what we want to teach them to do."

Photos, top right to bottom left: Brett Adams, left, and Richard Erdos are Center of Hope graduates. Captain John Showers, with wife Julia (not pictured), commands the Jackson Corps.



Enter your search terms below and hit the 'go' button

Site Map Site Map

Quick Links

Find a Center

Enter your zip code to find your nearest Salvation Army