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Jun1MonLt-Colonel Sandra Rice returns to her roots in Newfoundland and Labrador. June 1, 2020
(Above) "I am honoured to be given the opportunity to return to these communities to serve and live out my calling," says Lt-Colonel Sandra Rice, corps officer.
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Salvationist: After nearly 40 years as a Salvation Army officer, and six years as the divisional commander of the Ontario Central-East Division, you will soon be returning to Newfoundland and Labrador as a corps officer at Robert’s Arm–Pilley’s Island Corps. What are your thoughts about this new assignment?
Lt-Colonel Sandra Rice: This is an opportunity to return to that which is foundational to me as an officer. I have always had an inescapable calling to be a corps officer. I have gained valuable experience and am incredibly grateful for any influence I have been able to make as a divisional youth secretary, training college officer, training principal, secretary for personnel and divisional commander. Nevertheless, as I approach my 40th anniversary as an officer, I look back on my appointments as a corps officer as those which have given me the greatest satisfaction.
To be a corps officer truly identifies me with Jesus who came into the world to seek and save those who were lost. Of course, I can’t save anyone, but I can faithfully point people to the Saviour. As a corps officer, I have the privilege to ensure these same people are discipled and moved toward a mature faith. As a corps officer, I am given access to people’s lives and homes and have the privilege of journeying with them in their joy and in their pain. As a corps officer, I am uniquely and directly positioned to offer a wonderful message of hope, to help people better embrace this present life to the full and equip them for the life yet to come. As a corps officer, I not only get to pastor a congregation of people, but I can participate in the life of a community, and in this case communities, helping meet individual needs while sharing the transforming message of the gospel.
How have your years in executive leadership prepared you for this new appointment?
I believe the events and experiences of every appointment provide opportunities to grow, learn and mature. During these past years, I have been able to participate in broader discussions focusing on The Salvation Army’s mission in a changing and diverse culture. I have been part of a team of people who have wrestled with complex issues, addressing mission advancement, assessing relevance, stewarding financial and personnel resources and developing strategy.
The discussions in which I have been involved and the decisions made—for good and ill—have broadened my perspective, added insight and, hopefully, provided wisdom and experience that will assist in ministry at the local level.
In my role as divisional commander, I have learned so much from leaders in the field, and never more so than from those serving in corps appointments. Space does not allow me to elaborate, but those lessons, perhaps as much as anything else, have prepared me for my new appointment. I believe The Salvation Army can add focus on the significance of the corps officer, assessing the challenges and celebrating successes and ministry. That is a topic for another day, but please, come back and talk to me in six months, and I may be able to provide a more detailed perspective as one who is living the experience.
I understand you are going to an appointment with which you have some familiarity. Tell us about that.
Though I have been an officer for nearly 40 years, I have been out of corps leadership for the last 20 years. Not only that, but I have been away from my home province, Newfoundland and Labrador, for 36 years. Who could have imagined that my heart and mind would be so focused on serving in and ministering to the very communities that shaped and influenced me in my earlier years?
I lived in Pilley’s Island for the earlier years of my life, then moved five kilometres away to Robert’s Arm. These are small communities, but it was here and at this corps where I spent the bulk of my formative years. Following university, I returned to Robert’s Arm as a high school teacher. It was from this corps and community that I entered the College for Officer Training in 1978. I am honoured to be given the opportunity to return to these communities to serve and live out my calling and covenant, signed 40 years ago.
I am aware of the responsibility, and to some extent the challenges, but I am humbled by the beautiful privilege that comes with a corps officer appointment. I just want to do my best to live up to that and to those entrusted to me, and honour God in so doing.