Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener took office as Southern
territorial commander and territorial president of women's ministries this
past summer and were installed at the Southern Bible Conference at Lake
Junaluska, N.C., in August. In his message at the installation and welcome, the
territorial commander called for the USA Southern Territory to recommit to
proclaiming the lordship of Jesus and telling the world the good news of
salvation. The TC recently shared his thoughts about the opportunities and
challenges ahead with Southern Spirit editor Dan Childs.
Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener
After three months as the territorial commander, and two years as chief
secretary prior to that, you have had the opportunity to become well-acquainted
with the Southern Territory, its people, its heritage, its culture, and to
consider the course it needs to chart. Where do you want to lead the
MF: We must be careful not to get so focused on
doing the good and important work The Salvation Army does that we forget our
No. 1 task, which is to lift up Jesus Christ to a lost world. That is our
mandate and it must remain our focus. We exist to call people to Christ - we
are in business for Jesus. In his first words to The Salvation Army, following
his election as our International Leader, General Shaw Clifton challenged us to
be a Christ-centered Army, a Calvary-focused Army, a compassionate Army and a
doctrinally sound Army. May it be so!
Southern Spirit: What is the overall condition
of this territory now, in terms of its ability to effectively lift up Jesus?
What is the USA South doing effectively now in that regard? Where does it need
to adjust or improve?
MF: There are a lot of wonderful things
happening throughout the territory and we want to continue to build on that. We
recently spent a weekend with the Territorial Executive Council, and felt very
much the powerful and unmistakable presence of God with us. We also had several
days of cabinet planning recently that I believe were extremely helpful. We
have been looking at some very specific issues as it relates to the ongoing
mission of the Territory and are making some changes, we believe, that will
have a positive impact at the front lines...where the real heart of ministry is
taking place. We will have more to say about this in the days and weeks ahead
without doubt. When Lennie and I first met with the Territorial Executive
Leadership back in July, I presented a number of questions that have been the
basis of much of our discussion over the past several weeks...those questions
were made available to every active officer in the territory and the various
responses have certainly helped us to stay focused on the mission.
Southern Spirit: The Church today is undergoing
a deep re-examination of how it is relating to both believers and non-believers
and how it can be as relevant as possible. What do you feel The Salvation Army,
as a church, should be doing to be in order to grow stronger and more
MF: Lennie and I felt during our years as corps
officers, and we still feel, that certain things are critical to the growth of
the Kingdom and of the corps. I shared these priorities with the members of the
TEC and the Cabinet, and we are using them to help us direct and shape our
strategy for the Southern Territory.
First, we want to
emphasize effective prayer, giving special attention to the prayer meeting.
There is so much power in prayer!
people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my
face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will
forgive their sin and will heal their land - 2 Chronicles 7:14. We want to
be an Army in prayer. We will focus on our Sunday schools, realizing that it is
there that we have such a rich opportunity to build disciples of Jesus. Of
course this will involve developing a strong discipleship focus for the
territory and we are particularly giving emphasis to that during the Ordination
and Commissioning weekend in June of '07. We will have much more to say
about this in the days ahead.
We also want to put a
strong emphasis on visitation, to reach out into the communities around us and
form relationships, meaningful relationships with our neighbors. We are much
more effective in ministering to our people if we know them personally. Now I
know that we will need to be creative in terms of accomplishing this, but it
can and must be done.
Finally, we are going to give
special attention to the way we worship. Our goal is to worship in a way that
is meaningful, substantive and nourishing. We want our worship to honor and
glorify God, and we want it to create an atmosphere of spiritual growth and
renewal for the worshipper. These principles are nothing new - they are the
same priorities that have been with us from the beginning, but we want to
embrace them in a way that will bring a spirit of freshness and vitality to our
experience as Salvationists and as disciples of Jesus.
You recently appointed two officer couples to territorial staff positions. One
of those appointments will focus on holiness, and the other on mission. How do
those appointments tie in with your vision for the territory?
MF: We need to be
much more intentional in the preaching and teaching of holiness. Holiness is at
the very core of who we are and what we do as Salvationists - it is the central
part of our identity and experience. Samuel Logan Brengle wrote that "the
Army's outreach to the lost is built on the foundation of the forgiveness
of sins through obedient faith in a crucified and risen Christ and the
purifying of the heart and empowering of the soul through the anointing of the
Holy Spirit." All that we do and all that we are rest upon the doctrine of
holiness. I believe we need to reconnect with this standard, maintain it and
build on it. We must be people with ‘clean hands and pure hearts.' To
help us do that, I have appointed Lt. Colonels Don and Connie Canning
(see photo below) as our territorial ambassadors for holiness.
They will travel all across the territory, meeting the officers and soldiers in
town hall-style meetings, rallies, corps meetings and other events. They will
be available to corps as a holiness resource so to speak...at no expense I
might add. I am requesting divisional leaders and all officers to take
advantage of this opportunity...the Colonels are available and ready.
Also, I have appointed Majors Dalton and Casey
Cunningham (see photo below) as our territorial ambassadors for
the mission. They will be territorial travelers as well, visiting with
Salvationists in all the divisions supporting the various ministry units in the
carrying out of the objectives and priorities that relate to the mission. The
Cunninghams are gifted speakers and passionate about ministry effectiveness.
Again, I am requesting divisional leaders and all officers to give wide
exposure to the majors as they take on this exciting challenge. We have made
some wonderful advances in mission in recent years and we must continue to
advance and build on what has been accomplished so far and I believe Majors
Cunningham, under God, will help make that happen.
Southern Spirit: And the Feeners will be out
and about often as well, I presume?
MF: You can count on that! Commissioner Lennie
and I will travel extensively throughout the territory over the next several
months, and we are looking forward to it. We want to meet as many of the
officers and soldiers of our great territory as we can. We want to get
acquainted with our fellow Southern Salvationists and assure them of our love
and support as they faithfully serve God on the front lines. This territory is
blessed with great officers and soldiers and, of course, we also have so many
wonderful and supportive friends, including board members, volunteers, staff
and employees ...we can't help but be effective. These are exciting days,
and we are confident that God will provide an extraordinary movement of the
Spirit and extraordinary things will happen as a result. Commissioner Lennie
and I value and appreciate the impact of the strong prayer support coming from
this territory. Thank you for that.