Archives for posts with tag: Chicago Temple Corps

I am a little sad this evening.

This afternoon I pulled off the shelf my copy of Kennon Callahan’s Small, Strong Congregations:  Creating Strengths and Health for Your Congregation.  It is a book I used for several years in Chicago as an instructor of men and women preparing to become Salvation Army Officers.

I needed it today for a project I am working on. The project deals with how we can determine whether or not local Salvation Army units are being effective for our part in the mission of God in the world.  Missio Dei.  Determining so will help us also determine how to wisely invest resources.

Curious.  Where in this world is Dr. Callahan these days?  Google.

I found this information at the Mission Leaders Network site –

For nearly 30 years, the Seminar for Pastors and Key Leaders has gathered persons come from all over the United States and from Canada for learning, sabbath and conversation. 2017 will be the final week-long gathering at Callaway Gardens.

This final week-long gathering took place last month in Georgia.

This makes me a little sad.  I’ve been an advocate for what Callahan has discovered and shown the Church, including not a few Salvation Army folks, about what it means to be God’s people in mission in His beloved world.

Years ago Gail and I led a Salvation Army unit on Chicago’s westside, the Chicago Temple Corps, at the corner of Madison and Ogden.  Our eight years there was certainly one of our most memorable life experiences.  We were greatly helped by Dr. Callahan’s Twelve Keys To An Effective Church.  Thank you, Ed Homer, for bringing it to us.

Even if Kennon L. Callahan does not conduct another seminar, write another book, consult with the next discouraged minister, many of us, including myself, understand that mission is not about ourselves, but others.  Not receiving, but giving.  Not sitting in a religious facility, but going out into the world to share what we have received from God, to give and share with others.  Amen.

That’s why I’m only a little sad.  Callahan



Yes, I’ve had bad dreams about rats.

Those dreams and, as I mentioned in freedom in the screwed up places, a habit I yet have of darting side-long glances at certain types of peripheral movement (though it has diminished over the years) originated from our years working in an old building at 1512 West Madison Street on the west side of Chicago.

Part of that building is still there, incorporated into a new structure at the corner of Madison and Ogden.  Gail and I were there for several years during which we oversaw construction of what is the 3rd iteration of the Chicago Temple Corps at that corner.

The new building was made possible in part because of rats.  When we arrived in 1984 our old building had them.  These were what are called sewer rats.  They are big.  I would regularly kill specimens with 12″ bodies; tails extra.  Gail claims she once entered the kitchen to find a rat the size of a house cat on top of the fridge, just looking at her.  It creeped her out.

The building was so old, it was so full of holes.  Enter rats.  We set traps baited with peanut butter.  Works better.  But we often walked in to find our traps licked clean.  Rats can be clever.

The rats that survived the traps taunted us.  They would jump down from the refrigerator when Gail entered the building in the morning.  They would run across the kitchen floor when Major Mary Garrison was cooking in the evening.  A rat even ran between the Major’s feet as she stood in front of the stove.

Our son John once came running out of the nursery with Carl and Dennis.  A rat!  I slowly opened the door they had shut behind them, stick in hand.  Peered in.  I saw it.  I saw its hind legs perched on a chair rung, motionless.  I feint.  It runs.  I dispatch it with a sharp rap.

One evening we were meeting in the chapel, heard a squeal, then random notes from the piano across the hallway.  I went to investigate and found a rat on the floor next to the piano, twitching, its back broken.  It had dropped out of the high ceiling onto the piano top, bounced off the keys before landing on the floor.

I finished it off with my stick I kept for killing rats.  The stick would get those the peanut butter didn’t.  One time the stick wasn’t at hand so I sailed a stock pot lid across the kitchen.  I think I missed.

But I became somewhat skilled at getting my rat.  I felt buoyed by moral authority; rats don’t belong in our building.  The crusade against rats was righteous.

The day came where we knew that the old building would no longer be needed.  Our new one was nearing completion.

Gail had turned the oven on for Sunday morning’s breakfast and heard a noise.  Preparing breakfast with whatever we could offer for the young people was a weekly ritual.  Day old rolls from a bakery were to go in the oven this morning but they never made it.  Gail came to get me.  Please, check the oven.

I stood in front of the oven with my stick.   From underneath came waddling a rat with its hair singed into a fro.  When Gail had lit the oven, somehow the poor rat had been flash broiled.  It slowly waddled out toward me.  It couldn’t see.  I could.  I struck.

Ratting came with a cost.  During those years Gail told me she woke one night to find me kneeling on the bed, crouching at some unseen enemy.  She asked what I was doing.  I said “Norwegian rats” and kept my alert pose.  I have no remembrance of this.

I said earlier that the new building in part was made possible by our rat problem.  It happened this way.

One night we were working with young people and families in the fellowship hall.  We were surprised to hear the sound of a rat trap.  In the kitchen.  Kirsten!

A rat trap is a more serious danger than a mouse trap.  Its bow can break a finger.  A two year old could lose a finger to a trap.  Our two year had found the peanut butter on the trap.  She was fortunate to have set off the trap before it could crush her fingers.  The story of Kirsten’s close call traveled to headquarters.  A new awareness of our building needs.  It resulted in the new building on Madison at Ogden.

That new awareness and genuine concern led to a visit by the Divisional Commander accompanied by a Major Bill Roberts whose son I just saw this morning in Chicago.  Brigadier Jack Cheyne and Major Roberts visited our old building on a Wednesday, to see and to listen.  Verbal assurance was given of priority to our project.

The following Monday a building next door fell over onto our building.  It was October 19, 1987, Black Monday, as it’s known in finance history.  Which young Bill Roberts this morning mentioned to his audience.

Black Monday sort of sealed the deal for a new Chicago Temple Corps building.

Someone has been setting fire to houses in the Heidelberg Projectbilde

The Heidelberg Project is a public art project on the east side of Detroit created by Tyree Guyton.  I like it because it is not what you would expect to see in a city, especially Detroit.

I take that back.  Detroit is the city where you could expect to see the unexpected.  Where residents seem to be more free to express their creative sensibilities than in other places.   Hand-lettered signs, with ingenious word spellings.   Primitivist artwork (that’s what I would call it).  On stores, churches, signs for block clubs and community gardens.  A lot of people feel pretty free with a paintbrush.

Six houses have been set fire in the Heidelberg Project.  It just seems crazy that a person would be doing this, what Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield calls “madness”.

Years ago a man came to me during our time in the 80’s at Chicago Temple Corps on Chicago’s west side.  He said he was a retired security guard and offered to keep an eye on our building and property at the corner of Madison Street and Ogden Avenue.  This was before the current Temple building and the senior citizen apartment building were built.  Our corner then looked really rough, like a World War 1 battlefield.

Sure, I said.  A couple days later in a corner of our big sprawling lot appeared a cardboard structure.  Our security guard had built a home.  A rather grand one.  It did no harm so we left him alone.  True, we weren’t so certain about his mental stability.  Among other things, the secuity uniform he wore had definitely seen better days.

One day a group of boys walked past the guard’s home and threw a couple rocks at it.  He was inside, came out and yelled at them.  Later that afternoon, the boys returned and burned his cardboard house to the ground.

The next day a new cardboard home appeared.

I wish the Heidelberg Project the same Phoenix-like ability to rise from the ashes.  bildeCA5FE278

Patrick Simmons took this picture of the Temple Dancers at CFOT (Colleg for Officer Training) this past Sunday.

Temple Dancers at CFOT  February 2013

The Temple Dancers are from our Chicago Temple Corps and under the direction of Raven Temple.  That’s a lot of Temple.

We were with the Chicago Temple Corps on Sunday morning before Christmas.

We enjoyed TSA Madison Street’s gospel music and the Temple Dancers colorful presentation.

Merry Christmas!

In Chicago people are trying to sell their houses as highlighted in my last post A Silver Lining In Chicago?   And then there are houses no one wants to sell or save.

Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich last Sunday featured photographer David Schalliol’s project To Be Demolished.  Schalliol is in the process of creating “a photographic portrait of 100 of the hundreds of buildings threatened with demolition in the city of Chicago”. 

I liked the contrast between Crain’s Business report on the houses for sale and the Gapers Block series of Schalliol’s photos.  It brought to mind the thousands of abandoned crumbling houses in Detroit; see Lowell Boileau’s The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit It also brought  to mind our experience with demolition in Chicago.

October 19, 1987 is known as Black Monday when the stock markets fell.  We remember that day for another fall.  The old derelict commercial building next to The Salvation Army’s Chicago Temple Corps at Madison Street and Ogden Avenue also fell that day.  Right on top our Temple building.

Gail and I were then corps officers for the Temple.  More than a year earlier we had initiated action against the owner of that building.  It was a crumbling mess where addicts sat on warm summer evenings shooting up between their toes.  Where prostitutes turned tricks.  I remember one evening stepping out of the Temple building just as a coupling couple tumbled out of a car parked there.  This building wasn’t the kind of neighborhood resource we wanted next door as we conducted programs with young people.

We went to court against the building’s owner.  The judge made quick work of the case.  Tear it down he told the owner.  I remember riding down in the elevator with the resentful owner.

A demolition crew showed up and started work.  On Monday we were getting ready to leave for the corps when the phone rang and Pamela was on the other end saying that our building had fallen.  We hurried down.

The equipment operator was in shock.  Pam is about as unflappable as a person can be, her voice was shaking.  The building was a mess.  Fortunately no one was in the areas hit by several floors worth of falling brick.  Inspecting the damage I opened the men’s room door to find a room filled with bricks to where the ceiling used to be.  It looked like a prankster’s dream.

Electric and gas people came and cut service.  Inspectors swarmed.  Police and fire. 

It would turn out to be a three year mess that ended October 1990 when a crowd gathered to dedicate the new Temple building.

To be demolished?  Two for the price of one.

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