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Sep11FriMajors Frank and Rita Pittman share their thoughts on the important role of the corps officer. September 11, 2020
More than 36 years ago, then Lieutenants Frank and Rita Pittman took up their first appointment as corps officers in Glover’s Harbour, N.L. Today, Majors Pittman continue to serve in a shared ministry that has taken them to a variety of corps and administrative roles, including as the divisional leaders in Bermuda.
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News editor Pamela Richardson caught up with them in their current appointment as the corps officers at Corner Brook Temple, N.L., and asked them to share their thoughts on the important role of the corps officer and some of their fondest memories of ministry.
When did you recognize the call to officership?
Major Frank Pittman: From a very young age, I wanted to be an officer. I was totally involved in my home corps and had many committed corps officers who set a great example for me. By the time I was 13, I was preaching and leading meetings, and when I graduated from high school, there was nothing else that I desired.
Major Rita Pittman: At the age of eight, God told me very clearly that he had a work for me to do in ministry, but I didn’t understand what that meant. Three years later, my family moved to a new community, where I was invited to the Army by a friend. I loved the vibrancy of their worship and became involved in the corps. While attending a congress in St. John’s, N.L., some years later, I surrendered my life to God for service as an officer.
How have your years in non-corps appointments, particularly your service in Bermuda, prepared you to serve again as corps officers?
FP: Serving in divisional appointments gave us the privilege of working with many great corps officers. Sometimes that meant walking with them through difficult challenges, but the journey was always rewarding. We learned many valuable lessons on what to do and what not to do, and which ideas worked well and which ones did not. Those appointments also gave us a greater awareness of the administrative structure of the Army.
RP: We thoroughly enjoyed corps life in Bermuda, and often wished we could have switched roles to serve as corps officers in any one of the vibrant congregations in the division. That appointment gave us a deep appreciation for the culture in Bermuda, which we will take with us forever.
What has been your biggest joy in serving as corps officers?
FP: Making a personal connection with people as we journey through life with them. We’ve been privileged to celebrate in joyous times with some and to walk with others through very difficult moments. Regardless of the circumstances, to journey with people on a personal level is what makes ministry fulfilling.
RP: It’s been a delight to see people experience salvation, grow spiritually and take on leadership roles in the corps. Helping people to prepare for training college is also rewarding.
What has been your biggest challenge?
RP: Trying to meet all the demands placed upon us as corps officers—as pastors, preachers, accountants, program planners, administrators, and the list goes on—is a challenge.
FP: Finding a proper balance between our role as corps officers and our personal lives can be difficult.
How has the role of a corps officer changed?
FP: The greatest change I have seen is in the area of administration. I know technology has many advantages, but I sometimes miss the days of having a simple cash book! It was so easy and less complicated than cash sheets today. Keeping up with ever-changing software programs can be very time consuming.
What is your fondest memory of ministry?
RP: My fondest memories are of the times we have witnessed the salvation of people and the transformation of their lives by the presence and power of God. We will never forget holding 24-hour prayer meetings, prayer rallies and daily prayer meetings, and then watching as God poured his blessings upon our congregation.
What advice would you give to newly commissioned officers?
FP: First, remember that you are privileged to walk with people through the journeys of their lives, to guide, nurture, inspire, comfort and encourage them. Second, always be open to where God will appoint you through the Army and be fully engaged in the appointment you currently have. Looking ahead to what comes next can cause you to lose your focus for ministry.
RP: Love unconditionally and proclaim the message of God’s love. Keep your roots deep within the Word of God and Christ at the centre of everything you do.