An interesting thing happened at The Salvation Army Melbourne headquarters when Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd were announced as the new national leaders for Australia. Officers and staff at the current Australia Southern Territory head office, watching the announcement together as it was streamed live from Canberra, responded with prolonged hand-clapping and cheering.
The applause was more than polite, a number of participants told Pipeline. It was deafening; “genuine enthusiasm and appreciation” for two people enormously respected by Salvationists in the Southern Territory. The appointment was receiving overwhelming—maybe even unanimous—approval.
"They are the type of people you could invite to a backyard barbie in your stubbies (shorts) and T-shirt and still feel very comfortable”
After almost three years as Southern Territory leaders, the Tidds are now moving to Canberra to oversee the merger of the two territories into one Australia Territory. The announcement was made on March 1 and takes effect on June 1.
A poll of Southern Territory officers and staff was carried out in preparation for meeting the Tidds and preparing this article. Response was extremely positive. Participants had been encouraged to be open in their comments. They were made aware that it was an anonymous poll, so any reservations would not be recorded publicly against them. No reservations; no criticism were offered.
Comments included: brilliant, very approachable, lead by example, not afraid to make hard decisions, great speakers, switched on, very intelligent, listens, analytical, he expects detail in proposals put to him, appears unruffled, solid (not just about Salvation Army things but in their Christian faith), has an authority and credibility, very spiritual people. And, then, the ultimate Aussie accolade: “They are the type of people you could invite to a backyard barbie in your stubbies (shorts) and T-shirt and still feel very comfortable.”
Humbled by Respect
I got a sense of that friendship spirit when I sat in the ground-floor foyer of the Melbourne headquarters waiting to be ushered to the commissioners' third-floor office for an interview. As I waited, a friendly looking man in navy trousers, long-sleeved white shirt and navy tie approached me. “You must be Bill,” he said. I agreed. “I'm Floyd and I am here to escort you to my office. Thank you for coming.”
We walked to a lift to take us to the third floor. He chatted about my trip from Sydney to Melbourne to meet him and his wife. It was genuine chatter; not small talk to fill in the lift ride. By the time we reached his office, I felt as though I had found a new friend.
Commissioner Tracey Tidd joined us. She, too, was genuinely pleasant. She still marvels, she says, that God has taken a “shy little girl” from a nickel-mining town in Canada on an incredible journey to assist in leading The Salvation Army in Australia. “I was the kind of girl who was so shy she would cross the street so that I didn't have to speak to somebody. Sometimes I close my eyes and wonder if it's all a dream,” she says.
“I was the kind of girl who was so shy she would cross the street so that I didn't have to speak to somebody. Sometimes I close my eyes and wonder if it's all a dream”—Commissioner Tracey Tidd
We shared the comments made about them by Southern Territory officers and staff. The Tidds were “humbled” by the reaction. Moreso, Commissioner Floyd Tidd said, they were humbled by the respect that Salvationists in Australia had shown them.
Shortly after entering ministry together, they had engaged the philosophy of Paul in Philippians 1:3-5, where he thanks fellow Christians for “their partnership in the gospel.” Their ministry, Commissioner Floyd Tidd said, had been lived out in partnerships. It was a privilege, he said, to be partners in authority with others—from people serving on food vans in the street to those in management positions. All, he said, shared equally “in the work of the gospel.”
“We are people people,” Commissioner Tracey Tidd said. “We are intent on building relationships.” That included regularly spending time walking the corridors of territorial headquarters to show interest in the staff. They value spending time together with officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers on the front lines of Salvation Army ministry.
Thirty Years' Service
Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd have been Australia Southern Territory's territorial commander and territorial president of women's ministries respectively, since June 2013. They came to Australia after serving as chief secretary and territorial secretary of women's ministries respectively, in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
Both were born in 1961 in Sudbury, a small nickel-mining township in Ontario, Canada. Commissioner Floyd Tidd was raised by Salvationist parents. Commissioner Tracey Tidd's parents were not Salvationists, but sent her to Salvation Army Sunday school. She stopped attending at 12, but returned at 16, met Floyd and they married in 1982.
They were commissioned as Salvation Army officers in 1986 and have served together as church planters, corps officers, divisional youth leaders, territorial youth secretaries, territorial corps ministries secretary (Commissioner Floyd Tidd), territorial children's ministries secretary (Commissioner Tracey Tidd) and divisional leaders. Commissioner Tracey Tidd has also served as a chaplain at a social program for mentally and physically challenged adults. Australia is their first overseas appointment.
They have two adult children, both married and living in Canada and the United States. There are no grandchildren, yet. “But we're hoping,” says Commissioner Tracey Tidd—beaming at the prospect. Commissioner Floyd Tidd has one brother. Commissioner Tracey Tidd is one of 10 children. Commissioner Floyd Tidd has a bachelor of science degree and a master's degree in theological studies. He is also a graduate of the respected Arrow Executive (Christian) Leadership Program.
When they arrived in Melbourne, Commissioner Floyd Tidd said one of the things he was looking forward to was not having to shovel snow from his driveway as he had to do in Canada. There's more chance he will get some practise when he moves to Australia's new national headquarters in Canberra. “I'm looking forward to the prospect,” he says, “although I am told the snow, thankfully, doesn't get too high in Canberra.”
Bringing the Australia Eastern Territory and Australia Southern Territory together as one national territory was not, they said, just a matter of combining two territories to keep doing the same thing. It was imperative, they said, that the Australia Territory fits the 21st century “whatever that may mean.” It was time to “reboot.”
God had a plan for The Salvation Army in Australia, they said. The Salvation Army needed to take some time to listen to God and then “go and do it.” “God is doing a new thing with The Salvation Army in Australia,” Commissioner Tracey Tidd said. Commissioner Floyd Tidd added: “As one territory, The Salvation Army in Australia now has a single platform from which to proactively engage with the Australian community. The average Australian doesn't know that we are two territories. So, becoming one territory won't make much difference there. But there will be a difference for Salvationists. The key for us is that we will be stronger together, with one voice; one mission for all of Australia.”
“The key for us is that we will be stronger together, with one voice; one mission for all of Australia”—Commissioner Floyd Tidd
The Tidds see a “momentum; a creativity” in Australia. They want to release that creativity. They want to give that creativity permission to progress.
“But I say again, we need to enter a time of active listening,” Commissioner Floyd Tidd said. “What is God saying? What is the community saying? What are Salvationists saying?
“We want to walk alongside our people; to talk with our people. God doesn't just speak to officers. He speaks to everybody. Everybody in our Army has a voice. My dream is to see every Salvationist 'standing' on every street corner in every postcode of Australia shining the light of God into every situation.”
It would take change, in some cases, he said. But he appealed to people not to be afraid of change. “I know that change is harder for some than others. I appreciate that. Some things in worship style and music are not my 'cup of tea,' either. All I ask is that what we do serves the mission of The Salvation Army. It's those three John Gowans things, really—save souls, grow saints, serve suffering humanity.
“I appeal to Salvationists that as we look at change, make sure you have the end in mind. Will it bring people to God? That is our mission.”
Reprinted from Pipeline.