Commissioner Bill Roberts serves as USA National Commander for The Salvation Army.  This morning many of us received an email informing us of an op-ed letter by Commissioner Roberts which you can read in yesterday’s Washington Times.

The Commissioner has written a well-measured response to criticism the Army has received regarding its relationship with the LGBT community.

One particular thread in Commissioner Roberts’ article resonated with me.

“The people who work for and volunteer with The Salvation Army aim to serve others in need, to work with people and not against anyone” and that the Army “has demonstrated a consistent ability to work with and alongside individuals and organizations that may not always be in agreement with our theology.  They support us with time and financial resources because of a common cause and commitment to serve people in need.”missioners 9

Those of us who are Salvation Army people often wonder at the mystery of where and from who our support appears.

One of my first assignments was to visit taverns on Friday night.  In my Salvation Army uniform, with printed religious material (War Cry magazines), collecting donations.  Often listening to less than sober men and women, frequently praying with them, my uniform soaking up cigarette smoke and an occasional sloe gin.  But on Friday night there would be several speaking quietly, looking for encouragment, sharing fears and hopes.  Questions.  I felt I had more listening capacity than dispensable wisdom.

A prayer, a meeting of eyes, ‘next Friday’.  They would place a quarter or a dollar in my red collecting box.

Walking along First Street in Duluth MN to the next bar gave moments to reflect on what had happened in the last one.tavern collecting

They have seen and heard, and often received the good we do in the name of Jesus.  Collection has been taken.  The offertory provided by juke box and brawling.  No choir robes, holy incense, baptism only by beer.  Amen.

This is how the Army does the gospel, surprising the world in the places we show up, the people we are with.  Amen.