You are here: HomeNews20160829 › First African American Divisional Commanders On A Mission

First African American divisional commanders on a mission

First African American divisional commanders on a mission

First African American divisional commanders on a mission

29 August 2016

By Julie Borgen

As the first African American divisional commanders in the United States Central Territory, the Richardsons believe God has appointed them to build bridges in a fractured community.

Lieutenant-Colonels Lonneal and Patty Richardson have been appointed to lead The Salvation Army Northern Division, which serves Minnesota and North Dakota. A major focus of their ministry is in the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

“We are a diverse nation – the Twin Cities are a perfect example of that,” Lieut-Colonel Lonneal says. “We have a strong urban ministry focus and plan. Not that the rural areas aren’t important, but the urban areas are where most of the population lives and it’s where we have the most problems, and the most opportunities for The Salvation Army ministry to have an impact.”

The Richardsons step into their new roles after spending more than two decades serving as Salvation Army officers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Missouri.

Most recently, the pair were appointed leaders of The Salvation Army’s Midland Division in St Louis and were on the front lines of the rioting in Ferguson in 2014, after the death of African American teenager Michael Brown who was shot by a police officer.

“I was personally involved in a conference call with the White House as they were dealing with what was happening there,” Lieut-Colonel Lonneal says. “The Salvation Army played an important role there in not only providing for the people affected but in serving as a bridge-builder between law enforcement and the community.”

The leaders say they believe their experience and The Salvation Army’s mission are particularly needed in the Twin Cities now, given recent events.

“Race relations and economic disparities – these are difficult conversations. But who better to be at the table than The Salvation Army?” Lieut-Colonel Patty says. “We have to be an Army that’s inclusive and reflects our communities.”

In addition to helping heal those wounds, the Richardsons are committed to combating urban food deserts (geographical areas where affordable and nutritious food is hard to obtain), fighting the cycle of poverty and incarceration that plagues some neighbourhoods, and empowering people to help themselves.

“We will challenge our staff and our Salvation Army officers to address the root causes of poverty and other problems,” Lieutenant-Colonel Lonneal says. “As the old saying goes, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. We must be involved in teaching people how to fish.”

And that is why the Richardsons believe that The Salvation Army is just as relevant today as when it was founded by William and Catherine Booth more than 150 years ago.

“The Army was created for a time just like this,” Lieutenant-Colonel Lonneal says. “The best days for The Salvation Army are still ahead.”

This article was first published in the New Frontier Chronicle.


No comments yet - be the first.

Leave a Comment

- Will not be published

Email me follow-up comments

Note: Your comment requires approval before being published.

Default avatarWould you like to add a personal image? Visit to get your own free gravatar, a globally-recognized avatar. Once setup, your personal image will be attached every time you comment.