As Commissioner David Hudson takes on his appointment of National Commander as directed by General André Cox as of the first of this month, Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor-in-Chief, asks him about the guiding principles he sees as paramount for himself and for The Salvation Army.
War Cry: What is the role of National Commander?
David Hudson: It goes beyond serving as the spokesperson for The Salvation Army nationally. It’s to articulate the mission and the purposes of The Salvation Army, to rearticulate the reason for our existence. It’s done by how I live my life, how I treat people, how I respect people, being the person that God has called me to be. It’s working not only with the people at National Headquarters (NHQ) but with the territories in moving the Army forward, deepening our message and praying that God will expand our opportunities for service.
WC: What have you learned that you would not have known had you not been here at NHQ?
DH: When you come to National Headquarters, you come from the perspective of a territory. I served 40 years as an officer in the Western Territory, so when I came to National Headquarters, I was prone to say, “We did it like this in our territory.” After you’re here awhile, you realize that each territory offers something unique, an avenue of excellence that others may not have developed.
WC: What is the greatest challenge facing The Salvation Army in the USA right now?
DH: It’s the rising cost of doing business, further challenged by increased difficulty in raising funds. The world is changing around us. The Army needs to keep finding our place in this world, to provide service but to keep being who we are. There’s a secularization of America that is both a challenge and an opportunity. We need to be consistent in our message but at the same time be true to our mission. We are inclusive of all we serve and that’s a challenge and an opportunity going forward. The donors want to invest in change opportunities and we need to demonstrate what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it and more importantly, what’s the end result.
WC: What are the opportunities in the present time?
DH: The younger generation is interested in investing themselves. They’re willing to get the resources but they say, “I want to volunteer, I want to be engaged.” The Salvation Army has a great opportunity to engage people in service in ways that they can meet needs in His name without discrimination, maybe more so than we’ve had in the past. There is a sense of hopelessness in the world, whether it’s the threat of terrorism or the economy, or the polarization of America. The Salvation Army can come into a space and provide hope as a rallying point of good people, both people from within The Salvation Army and those from without, to come over and work together. It means we have to get out of our doors, out of our buildings and into the community to get people together to articulate these needs. The need is the call. We need to articulate that need. I see The Salvation Army as a great vehicle for doing that in the future, as a vehicle for reconciliation.
When I travel people often come up and say, “Salvation Army, thank you for all your good work.” That trust gives this organization great opportunities.
WC: Fill in the blank. What I most wish people knew or understood about The Salvation Army is _____.
DH: I wish people in the world knew how deep and broad and effective this organization is in fulfilling the mission that God has given us. Many times when I’m at functions, I hear people say over and over and over again, “I never knew The Salvation Army did this.” Ninety-five percent of people have heard of The Salvation Army, but 94 percent don’t know all that we do. Over 25 million people are served by this organization every year, and for some it is absolutely life changing. I wish people knew all this organization is able to accomplish because of the support that we get.
WC: How do you intend to address that?
DH: This is a real challenge. They say your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. One of our highest core values is humility. We do the work and we let God get the glory. We need to tell our story. Officers and soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army need a holy confidence. It’s not boasting. It’s telling the story of God’s faithfulness to this organization. We can go to a group or an individual and say, “Did you know that because of the work of The Salvation Army this life has been forever changed,” or “This family has been preserved,” or “This life has been literally saved.” We have to be purposeful in expressing that, but it goes against our DNA. I believe The Salvation Army is doing the most good that we can. If I don’t believe that we’re doing that then 1. I either need to help change it or 2. find an organization that is doing the most good. If we’re not doing the most good then let’s find it, fix it and start doing it.
WC: What do you want people to say about your service in this appointment?
DH: My number one core value is respect. I believe everyone deserves respect. People say you mean mutual respect. That’s not what I mean. I try my absolute best in times of agreement or disagreement to show respect. I would hope that people would say, “He respected me, respected my position.” Respect demonstrates care. It demonstrates concern.
I would hope that they would say that he made a difference. We look for leaders to be people of vision, of decisiveness, of direction, change. Look back and ask, “Who has had the most impact on my life?” It’s very seldom any of those things. More often than not it is someone who took time, who cared, who was there. I would hope that there would be a number of people that will say I was there for them. That’s the “so what” in my life. It’s not about the positions. It’s about caring and being available.
WC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DH: Sharron and I both are humbled by the opportunity. If my fellow cadets had voted who was most likely to be anything in the Army it would not have been me.
I was 19 years-old, one year out of high school. The shyest person in the class and now to be going into this position is humbling. It’s all about God’s grace and His work. It’s an honor when I see the pictures of previous National Commanders and think, “I have such respect for them. I never consider myself a part of that group. I don’t and I don’t think I ever will consider myself part of that group.” But to be named in the same sentences as these people is an incredible honor.
A Warm Welcome To Our New National Leaders
This month COMMISSIONERS DAVID and SHARRON HUDSON take up their new appointments as National Commander (effective Sept. 1) and National President of Women’s Ministries (effective Sept. 2), respectively. They have already set a tone of camaraderie and incisive analysis at National Headquarters in their previous appointments as National Chief Secretary and National Secretary of Women’s Ministries. They will take up their new appointment responsibilities with the rank of commissioner, Colonel David Hudson on September 1 and Colonel Sharron Hudson on September 2. They succeed Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffrey upon their retirement from active service.
Colonels David E. and Sharron Hudson have been officers in The Salvation Army for 42 years. Prior to coming to National Headquarters in November 2015, Colonel David was the Chief Secretary for the Western Territory. Colonel Sharron was the Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Western Territory, in Long Beach, CA.
They have a wide range of experience as officers, including being the territorial secretary for personnel and territorial Community Care Ministries secretary & Women’s Auxiliary secretary; divisional leaders for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division and in San Diego California. He earned a degree in Business Management and a Master of Science in Leadership. She earned a Masters in Christian Leadership.
National Headquarters also welcomes COLONELS JEFFREY and DOROTHY SMITH to their new appointments as National Chief Secretary and National Secretary for Women’s Ministries, effective September 1. Their previous appointments were as Chief Secretary and Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Central Territory. The Smiths, lifelong members of The Salvation Army, were commissioned as officers in 1986. They have served in the Kansas and Western Missouri Division, he as the divisional commander and she as the director of Women’s Ministries and divisional Social Services director. They have also served as training principal and director of campus services, respectively, at the territory’s College for Officer Training from July 2003 to July 2008, and as territorial Secretary for Personnel and Officer Resource and Development Secretary and the territorial Ambassador for Prayer, respectively.
Colonel Jeffrey Smith earned bachelor’s degree in Bible from Asbury College and a master’s degree in religious education from Nazarene Theological Seminary.
Colonel Dorothy Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in pastoral counseling at Olivet Nazarene University and a master’s degree in social work at Wayne State University. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren.