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Oct11ThuColonels Lee and Deborah Graves share parting words of encouragement. October 11, 2018 by Geoff Moulton
The farewell service for Colonels Lee and Deborah Graves will be held on October 18, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT). Click here to watch the livestream.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
As of November 1, Colonels Lee and Deborah Graves, currently serving respectively as chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries and integrated missions secretary in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, will be taking up new appointments as chief secretary and territorial secretary for leader development in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland.
In anticipation of this change of appointment, Geoff Moulton, editor-in-chief, sat down with the Graves to discuss fond memories of Canada and Bermuda, hopes for their future ministry and the legacy they want to leave behind.
What thoughts went through your minds when you first received your new appointments?
Colonel Lee Graves: After receiving word of the appointment change my immediate thought turned to covenantal availability. When we became officers we said that we would be available anytime and anywhere that we were asked to serve—and we meant it. Then my mind went to children and grandchild naturally. There’s a renewed dependency on the Lord as we trust in his plan.
Colonel Deborah Graves: The word “surreal” comes to mind. It was the furthest thought from my mind. What an awesome privilege to be asked to serve in another territory. It’s reassuring to realize that we already know a number of people in London, England. Though the countries and cultures are different, we are one Army.
What are you most looking forward to in your new roles?
DG: Mine is a newly created role as territorial secretary for leader development, so it will take time to understand the needs of the territory and how I can contribute. Being at the heart and hub of the international Army is also exciting—it doesn’t get any closer to the beginnings of our Army roots.
LG: It will be exciting to serve in a territory where the Army has its deepest roots. It will mean learning unique cultures, recognizing that the territory is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Canada and Bermuda Territory has invested in me for more than 35 years as an officer, for which I am grateful. This is an opportunity to apply my practical learning in another territory. I look forward to finding my way in a new context, meeting officers and soldiers, visiting corps and ministry units, and supporting the territorial commander in the fulfilment of the mission.
What will you miss most about the Canada and Bermuda Territory?
DG: The diversity of the people, from Newfoundland and Labrador to Bermuda to British Columbia to the northern territories and all points in-between. We’re all the same in our focus on mission, yet the differences in culture are refreshing.
LG: I would add that we’ll miss family, friends, ministry relationships and work colleagues—people we interact with every day who bring so much to the territory and who have spoken so much into our lives.
Can you list highlights of your tenure as leaders in the Canada and Bermuda Territory?
LG: In a very short period of time, we’ve had the joy of experiencing two wonderful congresses, one in the Newfoundland and Labrador Division in 2017 and more recently in the Ontario Central-East Division. It was a joy to watch committed people come together to celebrate their faith journeys and to witness the commissioning of cadets. I was thrilled to attend the Officership Information Weekend in October 2017 at the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg where 90 people were encouraged to seek the will of God, making that a priority. We’ve also enjoyed officer and leaders’ retreats and visits to ministry units. Corps and ministry unit visits have allowed the inspiration needed to keep the focus on the mission.
I’m encouraged that this territory, under the leadership of our territorial commander and with the support of the Chief of the Staff, had the wisdom to appoint an assistant chief secretary for organizational development to help us move strategy forward in practical and tangible ways, tackling major undertakings such as organizational complexity. I believe we are the only territory in the Army world with a lay Salvationist in an assistant chief secretary role. This is progressive and strengthening to the territory.
DG: For me, the highlight has been travelling and meeting so many amazing people across the territory. I think about the opportunity to visit the new Salvation Army corps plant in the north end of Winnipeg and to see how their small group of committed people has reached out and embraced their community. I also think of the Hobiyee event for Nisga’a new year in Gitwinksihlkw, B.C., where the Army has learned from our Indigenous members.
What territorial initiatives would you like to see flourish in the days ahead?
LG: I would list a number of important areas where we are making progress. We have made it a priority to be highly inclusive and collaborative in our conversations all across the territory at every level. We have been designing territorial leaders’ and executive leaders’ conferences in a highly participatory way as we consult on agendas. The territory also launched a complexity workgroup, a team of leaders from all levels that will make recommendations regarding how the Army can maximize resources and minimize the administrative workload. Leadership development is undertaking work that will help us understand what skill sets we want officers to acquire by their eighth year of officership. I am also pleased to see more and more lay Salvationists bringing their expertise to key employment and lay leadership positions in the territory. Finally, I am pleased that we are seeing kingdom gains as a result of the continued focus on the outcomes related to the seven territorial priorities.
DG: I’d like to mention SALT, an integrated mission initiative that equips people to engage in their community. We read in Matthew 5:13-16 about being salt and light in the world. SALT training is being made available to Salvationists across the territory. The second initiative that is being released early next year is Mission 7-17, a new women’s ministries resource that focuses on girls aged 7-17 to address current issues such as antihuman trafficking and self-respect. Girls in our territory were surveyed last summer to find topics that are relevant and current to them. Women’s ministries will be working with the children and youth ministries department to develop this resource that engages girls through community and family services programming and in the wider community.
How has the concept of integrated mission taken hold in the territory?
DG: People are talking about it and starting to understand that integrated mission is not a program, but a way of life. As one of the territorial strategic priorities, it’s always in front of people and championed from the territorial commander down to the local divisional champions. It is different from collaborative ministry, which is when we bring ministry units together under one roof to further mission. Simply bringing community and family services into the corps building is not enough. Integrated mission is about intentionally building new bridges into our communities.
We’re also learning from our partners in Latin America through ELAMI, an acronym which translates as Latin America Integrated Mission Team. I’ve had the opportunity to attend their conference for the last four years, together with representatives from our territory. We have a lot to learn from our friends in Latin America. They can teach us so much about how we connect with our neighbours and how we embrace our communities—focus on the strengths of people, not on their needs. With integrated mission we choose to emphasize what is strong, not what is wrong.
What’s the most important thing you have learned in your current role that you will carry forward to your new appointment?
DG: The importance of team has been affirmed for me—working together with others to accomplish a common goal. We are so much stronger when we work together and hear other perspectives. And of course the comfort in knowing that I can’t go anywhere that the Lord can’t find me or use me!
LG: The importance of a strong working relationship with the territorial commander, which I have enjoyed. There has to be a rhythm because our two roles hold each other accountable. The need for careful attention to be given to the focus on General André Cox’s (Rtd) call to accountability in finance, governance, impact measurement and child protection is increasingly important for us today. It is also crucial to develop working relationships with International Headquarters, other territories, territorial executive and department head leaders. Lastly, I think of the importance of connecting with soldiery, friends and employees across the territory in order to listen and learn together.
What would you say to the incoming chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries?
LG: I would say enjoy every day, and maximize the skill and talent and resources that will be all around you. Embrace the vastness of our geography, the diversity of our people and the depth of commitment evident in our officers, employees, soldiers, volunteers and many friends.
DG: Love and embrace the people. You’ll be stronger and accomplish more for the kingdom with them on your team.
Do you have any parting words of encouragement for Salvationists?
DG: Sesame Street had a segment on the show that asked, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?” My encouragement is to take a walk through the neighbourhoods where you worship. Engage with people, learn their names and find out what they contribute to your community. Find people who you can share life with and, in doing so, spread the love of Jesus. As the Bible says, be salt and light.
LG: In the complexity and busyness of life, the continual temptation is to yield to the distraction of worldly living. But don’t do it! Keep the main thing the main thing: a vibrant relationship with Christ and holy living. Don’t sacrifice what it means to be The Salvation Army. Let’s be everything God needs us and calls us to be today.