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Oct30FriMajors David and Brenda Allen share their thoughts on the important role of the corps officer. October 30, 2020
(Above) Mjrs David and Brenda Allen are the corps officers at North York Temple
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Commissioned in 1996, Majors David and Brenda Allen have served faithfully across the Canada and Bermuda Territory in a variety of corps settings, from rural communities to urban centres, from a church plant to corps rich in Army heritage. Prior to their current appointment as the corps officers of Toronto’s North York Temple, they served for five years at the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg, with Major David Allen as principal and Major Brenda Allen as director of spiritual formation.
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 David Allen: God spoke into my soul gently and consistently, beginning in my teen years, and I often marveled at the ministry of those who lived out their calling. As the years went on, I often heard God’s still small voice, identified in Sunday meetings and articulated by others who quietly encouraged.
Major Brenda Allen: While studying in the field of education, I felt called to teach, but in a ministry setting outside of school walls. I sensed the Lord saying, “You can teach a child to read and write, but if you teach people to know about me, they will have everything they need for life’s journey.” During my last year of university, I met David, and God opened the doors that allowed us to walk in the direction of ministry in the Army as a couple.
What has been your biggest joy in serving as a corps officer?
DA: There have been many joys, most notably leading people to the throne of God’s mercy. While I don’t consider myself an evangelist, I have been overwhelmed by the power of the gospel. Lives are hungry for the food that only God can offer in his Word.
What has been your biggest challenge?
BA: I am surprised by the number of church members who say, “Are you sure I am good enough?” when asked to serve. People often think ministry must be done by “professionals” or by those who display a capacity to serve. I think a focus on talent, rather than on spiritual gifting and reliance on God, has limited the development of the less-spoken-of gifts of the Spirit, such as discernment, words of knowledge and wisdom, certain faith, and healing. The Spirit of God has anointed and equipped all Christ-followers with essential gifts that are required by the church. I pray all will sense the urgency to use their gifts for the honour of God.
How has the role of a corps officer changed?
BA: The spread of the Army into ministries that do not evolve from our congregations can burden corps officers. The resulting ministry can be strained and weakened, taxing officers mentally, spiritually and physically. Perhaps it is time to let go of the things that are not essential. This would require a big step of faith but allow the Spirit’s work to flourish in new ways.
DA: While much investment has been made to further officer training and education, our true success remains in our partnership with local corps leaders. Perhaps the development of user-friendly programs that are necessary for governance and best practices would allow our volunteer members to serve with ease.
What is one thing you learned while serving at the training college?
DA: I have a richer perspective on the breadth of ministry expressions across the territory. While we hold to common theology and philosophy, there is no single approach that fits all settings. We must be attentive to the culture of the communities in which we serve.
BA: I was reminded that a little encouragement goes a long way, not only in ministry settings but as it relates to officer colleagues. The officer role comes with many challenges and I am grateful that the Lord extends me the opportunity to be a source of his encouragement to others, whether through a kind word or a note of support.
What is your fondest memory of ministry?
DA: I am grateful for the times spent training and equipping future leaders, such as when I taught theology and lectured at the College for Officer Training and led holiness conferences for cadets in Zimbabwe.
BA: While serving as corps officers in Campbell River, B.C., as a church we planned and carried out an evangelistic community event in a local park. Many came together to dream about God’s vision for the day and our corps people knew they were all part of telling the good news story of Jesus.
What advice would you give to newly commissioned officers?
DA: Ensure that each day you covet time with the Lord in your “study” before entering your “office.” Remain faithful. Do your best and let God do the rest.
BA: I would remind new officers that while the “urgent” things of the day are important, it has been the voice of God that has sustained me during the most difficult moments of ministry. Dwelling in the presence of Jesus and in his Word bring freedom and joy.