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A letter to our new territorial leaders

By Doug Riley, Colonel –

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen. 28:15 ESV).

Welcome home.

We often say these words to family and friends who are returning from their journeys. It’s a warm reception that begs of a tender emotion for the one who receives it and love from the one who shares it.

So, from all of us in the Western Territory: Welcome home, Commissioners Kenneth and Jolene Hodder.

Appointed to lead the Western Territory as of Jan. 1, you will take on this new role after 28 years of service in appointments that range from Glendale Corps Officers to instructors at the then-School for Officers Training and even as coordinators for the International Millennial Congress in Atlanta. And then, in 2006, you were appointed to serve overseas, which led to an 11-year excursion through Kenya, Kenya East, International Headquarters in London and, finally, Kenya West.

What a journey! I know along the way you have met amazing Salvationists and experienced exciting days of growth in the largest Salvation Army territory in the world.  

Just as we long to hear the stories of a family member who has returned home from afar, we can’t wait to hear of the goodness of God throughout your path and the beauty of the people you befriended in each home along the way. It is important to know of your deep connection and commitment to serving in this international Salvation Army, in dealing with its difficult challenges and the vastly diverse cultures. We know that you have well loved so many of its committed Salvationists across the 127 countries of our operation.

Here, in the Western Territory, we’ve been busy, too.

In the past six years, for example, we’ve opened 15 new corps, recorded over 1 million people attending Sunday morning meetings in a year, commissioned 290 officers, and increased our senior soldier ranks.

Yet, there is more work to do here in the West, and we welcome your faithfulness and passion for mission as we join efforts in the days ahead.

We know that home provides warmth, comfort and caring deep in one’s soul. It’s a prized possession, but it’s not much about the surroundings or circumstances as much as the relationship and feelings that reside there. And we’re told in Proverbs that the house of the righteous will stand (12:7).

This month, as you have come home, we long to greet you with the same warmth and affection we give to those we welcome into our own homes. You are friends and family to us in the West, and it is good to have you back.

Be assured of our prayers and support for you as you get reacquainted with your home in the Western Territory.

Read a Q+A with Commissioners Ken and Jolene Hodder here.

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