New season of leadership in The Salvation Army
New season of leadership in The Salvation Army
2 November 2018
Anticipation is always high around the time when officer appointments are released, but this year had added interest with seven auxiliary-lieutenants being appointed as part of a new Australia Territory officership model introduced by Eva Burrows College in Melbourne.
Traditionally, Salvation Army cadets undertake two years of study at the School for Officer Training before being handed their first appointment as a commissioned officer. However, the school now offers the option of becoming an auxiliary-lieutenant, fulfilling the duties usually undertaken by a commissioned officer within an appointment while completing their studies. In short, training on the job.
This option is giving candidates an alternate pathway to officership. They are able to complete vocation-specific training for the duration of their initial three-year full-time role, and this role may be extended by another three years once training is complete.
“The Salvation Army recognises that people’s responses to full-time ministry differs today to many years ago, and that less people are wanting or are able to enter through traditional methods or to make a lifetime commitment to officership,” explains Territorial Candidates Secretary, Captain Matt Reeve.
Officer Recruitment Secretary for NSW/ACT Division, Major Scott Allen, added, “The application process and selection criteria for both an auxiliary-lieutenant and an applicant for officer training are exactly the same as each is entering into a spiritual leadership role within The Salvation Army.”
The Salvation Army in Australia began commissioning auxiliary-lieutenants under General John Gowans in the early 2000s, giving soldiers a better way to explore their calling to ministry and leadership.
Officership was previously dependant on location, age, family situation and the status of a spouse. The modern Army recognises that ministry no longer has a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and that is why auxiliary-lieutenancy is so important.
“The diversity of mission opportunities within The Salvation Army in Australia today is a reflection of the diversity of people and communities within the nation of Australia itself,”says Major Allen.
“The varied pathways for people to enter full-time ministry and use their leadership, experience, gifting and spiritual maturity reflects ... an awareness and willingness to explore new methods of training/ service for people who may have previously been unable to step into the calling God has for them.”
While becoming an auxiliary-lieutenant isn’t a traditional path to officership, it is by no means an easier route. The full-time role is often preceded by years of volunteering at a local corps in ministry and leadership positions while working in paid secular employment.
“It is not to be seen as simply a job, but a person responding to God’s call on their life for full-time ministry,” says Major Allen.
Auxiliary-lieutenant a natural ‘fit’ for Muendels
Terri and Bernie Muendel were on the planting team for Eastlakes Salvation Army in the early 1990s and had been with the corps for most of the years since.
Bernie had been working in The Salvation Army’s recovery services for 18 years and Terri owned a massage therapy business. Both were foster carers, as well as parents to two teenage children. Life was full, but good. But last year both Terri and Bernie felt God calling them into a new season.
“We had felt, for probably about six months,”said Terri, “that God was saying that we’re heading into a new season [for 2018] but we didn’t really know what that was going to look like.
Late last year they took up the invitation of their corps officers, Majors Colin and Pam Robinson, to come over for a coffee and a chat. The majors were nearing retirement, and they asked Terri and Bernie if they’d like to take over leadership of Eastlakes as auxiliary-lieutenants.
“We just knew straight away that it was the right thing for us,” said Terri. “It’s wonderful; we just feel so honoured that we get to lead our own church family. It’s just amazing.”
Not knowing what an auxiliary-lieutenant was, Terri looked up the meaning. “Auxiliary means ‘instead of’,” she said. “An auxiliary-lieutenant is a soldier that’s stepped into the role of an officer, that’s not commissioned as an officer. So, we are doing everything that an officer would do; we are on officer conditions, we live in the quarters and all that sort of stuff, so it’s the work and the conditions of an officer ... without being commissioned.”
She and Bernie will undertake part-time study through The Salvation Army Booth College while on the job. “We’re just loving it,”she said. “It’s a perfect fit for us because we know the people, we know the culture, and we were already so invested in the life of the corps.”