Augusta's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center and nearby Center of Hope make a major impact for God and for The Salvation Army. There is a thriving corps that provides vital ministry through the recreational and educational programs of the Kroc Center. The Center of Hope, with its soup kitchen, family assistance and overnight housing, reaches out to people in their most desperate moments. It was fitting that the international leaders were guests for the annual civic dinner.
The evening began with a presentation of two proclamations by the mayor of Augusta, the Honorable Hardie Davis, Jr. The proclamations set aside both a Salvation Army Day and, later in the year, a Salvation Army Week in honour of the Army's 125th anniversary in the area.
In his address, General Cox said: "Sometimes people wonder whether or not we are a church. In my opinion, it is great when you can't tell whether it is a social organization or a church … [and] when we can accomplish our mission in multiple ways. Our dual role allows us to impact peoples' lives in many ways."
Speaking of the need for hope, General Cox continued: "Life is not always smooth sailing but if we lose hope, we lose everything. Temporal things will always disappoint. But our hope is not conditional on our present life. Having faith in God does not shield us from the difficulties in life but it doesn't change the fact that God never fails us. We rejoice that many people who encounter Christ through the ministry of The Salvation Army … will find a life-changing hope."
The meeting concluded with the presentation of the "Doing the Most Good" Award to Ed Zeigler who has served as a loyal member of the advisory board since 1959, now in his 57th year of service.
At Florida's Tampa Citadel Corps, Lieutenants Ben and Annie Bridges hosted the international leaders as they conducted Sunday's holiness meeting. The theme "Holy in Every Part" was woven into each aspect of the meeting which included music and sacred dance.
General Cox, calling the congregation to a life of holiness, said: "We are to be salt and light in the world. Sadly, the world is impacting the Church and the Army rather than the other way around. But if God is in complete control of our hearts, it will show … We require a revolution in our souls."
Later, at a soldiers' rally at Clearwater Citadel Corps, overflow seating was required to accommodate the enthusiastic crowd. "A Godly Heritage" was the focus of commemorations of Salvation Army ministry reaching its 125th year in Florida. But as the General testified: "We don't live in the past – we learn from the past."
Commissioner Silvia Cox sounded a challenging Bible message drawing from Psalm 79:13, which she noted was a psalm of lament: "We are not promised an easy life. But when everything seems lost, the psalmist encourages us to praise … We must hold fast to prayer. Hold fast to the Word of God. Hold fast to hope. If we are faithful to the mission he has given us, from generation to generation we will sound his praise."
When Commissioner Cox concluded, the altar was lined with many who sought God's help to meet the challenge.
The short visit also included the General presiding over the retirement meeting for Commissioners Steven and Judith Hedgren.