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General points to the cross in Dallas meetings

General Shaw Clifton held the cross of Christ high as he brought the message in meetings in Dallas Oct. 14-15. General Clifton, making his first visit to the Southern Territory as The Salvation Army's international leader, joined other leaders who gathered at the Texas Division's Camp Hoblitzelle for conferences.

Salvation Army leaders from the territories of the Western hemisphere gathered for the Pan American Conference and other meetings. The intent of the Pan American Conference was to create strong unity around the Salvation Army mission in the Americas and to deepen the understanding and appreciation of how different cultures express the mission through effective service.

The week opened with meetings across the Dallas area in which the leaders participated. The General, accompanied by Commissioner Helen Clifton, brought the message at a soul-saving rally at Dallas' Lover's Lane Methodist Church on Saturday evening and again in the Sunday morning worship service at the Dallas Temple Corps. Other leaders from the Americas participated in Sunday morning meetings at other corps in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Clifton's message on Saturday evening was an invitation to accept Christ, while on Sunday he challenged to the congregation to enter into a deeper and more fully-committed walk with the Lord. In either case, man must confront the cross and determine its meaning for him.

"Everything comes back to the cross of Christ," Clifton said. "It's the turning point in the history of mankind. We cling to the cross. It's our only chance for redemption, our only chance for righteousness."

Commissioner Max Feener, Southern territorial commander, presided over both meetings. Saturday's commander, presided over both meetings. Saturday's rally got a rousing opening by the spirited singing of the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center Choir. Cheryl Crowley and Keith Sanders, both soldiers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, gave their testimonies of God's grace in transforming their lives and Roberta Simmons-Smith, a soldier at the Dallas Temple Corps, performed a vocal solo. The offering that was collected was designated for the Americas and Caribbean Zonal Project. The altar was lined with seekers at the conclusion of the General's message.

Captain David Feeser, Dallas Temple corps officer, welcomed the congregation to Sunday's holiness meeting, Simmons-Smith led a time of praise and worship. Commissioner Helen Clifton greeted the worshippers and read the Scripture from which the General's message was taken. Lt. Colonel Deise Eliasen, training secretary for the Brazil Territory, gave her personal testimony and challenged the congregation to leave their comfort zones minister in a meaningful way to others. "Holiness means to be like Jesus," she said, "and to be like Jesus means to go to others."

The General acknowledged the challenge that comes with God's call to a deeper commitment. "Going into God's house is a risk-associated activity," he said. "We run the risk of being disturbed. We have to be ready to go deeper into Christ, to walk further with Him."

Corps re-opens to put Army back on map in New Orleans

Oct. 1, 2006, is now engraved in the Southern Territory's history for an event rivaling the official opening of a new corps. The reopening and rededication of the New Orleans Citadel Corps caused one observer to compare it to "an Easter Sunday - with a sense of resurrection in the air."

Complete with all the pageantry akin to early-Salvationists who would "open fire" when starting the work in a new town, the only difference for the New Orleans Corps is that the Army's work here has been in existence since 1886.

A near-capacity crowd filled a spacious and refurbished chapel that for weeks following Hurricane Katrina had been flooded by some four feet of putrid water. The congregation included returning soldiers, supporters, advisory board and women's auxiliary members, and families receiving recovery assistance during the past 13 months.

"We are here today to officially reopen and rededicate the New Orleans Citadel Corps," said Major Michael Hawley, New Orleans area commander. "While it is true that normal Sunday meetings and traditional corps programs were suspended because of the destruction to our properties and the ongoing recovery effort - in reality, the Army's work continued. Our mode of worship for the past 56 weeks merely took a different form - that of service in the name of Christ."

The festivities were supported by territorial leaders Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener, and Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi divisional leaders Majors Dalton and Casey Cunningham. A Salvation Army brass ensemble was on duty, and the "Crazies 4 Jesus" singing group provided special music and an afternoon praise concert.

The celebration also honored CSM Edward and Peggy Langdon, for completing their service as Southern Louisiana recovery commanders. Ed Langdon paraded the corps flag past a wildly-applauding congregation, returning the Army banner to its rightful place on the platform.

Dominic Batchelona, Chermane Allen, and Ronald and Angela Netter were among Citadel soldiers returning to their restored corps. Batchelona has been a soldier for eight years and an employee of the New Orleans Adult Rehabilitation Center. Chermane Allen and her daughter, Mary Aaron, were involved in many programs at the Citadel before Hurricane Katrina curtailed normal corps activities. Chermane's first question upon arriving for the rededication: "When does Home League begin?" The Netters lived just down the street from the corps building. Ronald Netter testified during the meeting that they are "thankful to have their home and their church back."

The service was punctuated by bursts of applause, and shouts of "hallelujah!" and "amen" - particularly during Feener's sermon, the first preaching in the Citadel's new era of ministry. Feener's topic, "Get Ready," was drawn from Joshua 1.

"When God speaks, great things begin to happen," the territorial commander said. "Leadership emerges, the Word of God becomes prominent, strength is offered, and action follows!"

Referring to Jesus' parable of the wise man who built his house on a rock, Feener drew a comparison to the structure's strength to withstand wind and flood.

"Katrina was not able to deter the work of God in New Orleans," he said. "That's because Katrina does not have the last word about it - God does!"



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