Under the theme of “Motown on a Mission,” the Eastern Michigan Division hosted the National Advisory Board as well as local Salvationists, advisory board members and friends at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit. With special guests Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, a focal point of was the installation of the new USA national leaders, Commissioners David and Sharron Hudson.
In his installation remarks the Chief of the Staff said, “We acknowledge your many years of faithful service. This new appointment is yet another expression of your lifelong covenant. I challenge you to continue to uphold the doctrines of The Salvation Army, to live a lifestyle of integrity, self-discipline and service. Keep before you the winning of souls for the Kingdom. It is who you are. You are to lead with values consistent with the Lordship of Jesus Christ, serve as high examples of genuine Christian experience while providing visionary and practical leadership in the proclamation of the Gospel.” Commissioner Rosalie Peddle prayed God’s blessing on the newly installed leaders.
Prior to the installation, Commissioner Sharron Hudson shared the story of her father’s journey to faith through the Adult Rehabilitation Program in neighboring Flint, Michigan and the impact this had on her as a child through to the present day. Following the installation, Commissioner David Hudson told the story of the faithful ministry of his corps officers in Portland, Oregon Majors Ron and Marilyn Bawden (see Commissioner Hudson’s inspiring story below). They were greeted with a standing ovation.
—Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor in Chief and National Literary Secretary
Commissioner David Hudson’s Testimony
The honor and humility that I feel today is only overshadowed by the surprising path that led me to this place. Without going into too many details, I am the son of a functional alcoholic father; functional because he always held a job. However, when he drank, which was most weekends, he physically and emotionally abused my mother and emotionally abused me. I don’t remember how many times we either ran from him or he left us. The final time was when I was 7 years old. After a series of moves we ended up in Portland, Oregon.
Whenever possible, my mom and I connected with a local Salvation Army corps. After arriving in Portland, Mom called the corps closest to our home and asked if they provided transportation. They regretfully answered no. Undeterred, she called another corps that, unknown to her, was located on the opposite side of town. Asking the same question, the answer was not only yes, but the corps officer personally provided transportation to whatever corps functions we wanted to attend.
Over the next four years those corps officers drove from north to southeast Portland Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, once a week to Women’s Ministries and to Corps Cadets (youth Bible study). Understand that neither my mom nor I had much to offer. Mom had no job so her offering was small. She still bore the scars of emotional abuse and I was incredibly shy. For example, one Sunday my corps officer asked me to come up on the stage and draw a number for lucky seat. I did so because I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. However, after the service, I told him that if he ever did that again, I would never come back to the corps.
I learned the art of going unnoticed because you are not hurt when you are invisible.
Those corps officers showed me what a family could look like. They literally took me under their wings, mentored me and believed in me. I am sure that if anyone was to do a financial analysis on the time and resources that officer spent to bring Mom and me to the corps, it would not have been a good report. However, if they had not done so I have no idea where I would be today. I can tell you with full confidence that I would not be here today. I would have never met my wife at the College for Officer Training and our two daughters would never have been born.
To the number crunchers that may have said those multiple trips across Portland were a poor use of Salvation Army resources, I simply ask the question, “How much is a USA National Commander worth?” I am forever in debt to the officers who took time to invest in me, chose to believe in me when not many people would have done so. Those corps officers, my corps officers, are here with us this evening. It brings me great honor present those two very special people: Majors Ron and Marilyn Bawden.
I am one of thousands they touched.
This past summer hundreds of thousands of children entered Salvation Army camps, day camps, Kroc Centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, and corps community centers. Some are large while others very small. Each of those children have a story, some are very painful. For some the future isn’t bright. However, through the doors of The Salvation Army hope can be found. They can find is someone who cares, who chooses to invest time and belief in them.
“Doing the Most Good” takes many forms. Regardless of the form of service one thing must be consistent: love, acceptance, and a belief that every person matters and has the potential to become more than they are.
I am a living testimony to that fact.