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Aug7FriMajors Herbert and Kathie Sharp share their thoughts on the important role of the corps officer. August 7, 2020 By Pamela Richardson
(Above) Mjrs Herbert and Kathie Sharp are the corps officers at Peterborough Temple
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Following more than 43 years of faithful service as Salvation Army officers, all of which have been spent serving as corps officers in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, Majors Herbert and Kathie Sharp, corps officers at Peterborough Temple, Ont., will enter honourable retirement on September 1, 2020. News editor Pamela Richardson 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 Herbert Sharp: At a very young age, the seeds of God’s calling to officership were being planted. My parents were Salvation Army officers, and when my grandmother came to visit, we often played church. I had to be the officer and speak about loving Jesus. I was even allowed to keep the offering! It was during my teenage years that I responded to God’s call.
Major Kathie Sharp: When I was 12 years old, I felt the call for officership. I watched how my corps officers loved, taught and lived out Christ’s mission in their lives, and I knew that was what I wanted to do full time.
What has been your biggest joy in serving as corps officers?
HS: The biggest joy comes in knowing you’ve had a small part to play in the spiritual development of others, when you see young people and adults you have pastored take up the mantle of Christian leadership.
KS: For me, it is seeing God working in the lives of others, as well as working with people who want to minister with us. What has been your biggest challenge?
HS: The biggest challenge has been the personal cost of serving, which requires a willingness to become vulnerable, wounded and acquire the scars that come as a result of ministry. Kathie and I journeyed alongside families experiencing the impact of a brutal killing of an individual. Ministering to the families of the victim and the perpetrator of the crime, both of whom attended our inner-city corps, came with a cost. The prolonged journey through the justice system exposed us to the intense pain of the families, our corps folk and the community at large.
How has the role of a corps officer changed?
HS: The church used to have a significant place within families and communities. As our nation has become more secularized, the church has become marginalized. Today the challenge is not in the proclamation of the gospel, but in earning the right to be heard. On a more practical note, a decrease in officers and the merging of corps with social services into a single ministry unit has led to an increased demand on corps officers to possess professional skills and expertise in so many areas.
KS: So much administration has been added to the role of a pastor that having time for “pastoring” has been made much more difficult. I also miss the personal contact with our leaders, who used to have time to call us to just talk and pray with us.
What is your fondest memory of ministry?
KS: I have loved seeing people welcomed into the church, no matter how they look or where they have come from and watching as they were mentored in the ways of Jesus by more “seasoned” Christians. Seeing the excitement on the faces of people who have led their friends into a relationship with Christ will always remain with me.
HS: My fondest memories are similar— observing Salvationists reaching out to people in the love of Christ, seeing leaders in the corps investing in the lives of young people and witnessing the compassionate prayers of followers of Christ for one another. I also have fond memories from my deployments as part of the Army’s emergency disaster response, including at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11, and from my time serving as a police chaplain.
What advice would you give to newly commissioned officers?
HS: Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Prioritize and protect a personal time of Sabbath rest, not simply a day off. For several years now, Kathie and I have made it a priority to attend an annual pastors’ retreat beyond the Army’s annual leaders’ retreat. These times have spiritually enriched us, introduced us to new friendships with pastors beyond our own denomination and surrounded us with committed Christians who invest and pray for pastors.
KS: Follow your Christ-heart. Walk the talk. Preach the Word, and if you have to, use words.