A week ago, love came to town. Love, in the form of National Advisory Board members who flew into Nashville to gather together and discuss The Salvation Army. All from different backgrounds, all from different fields of expertise and employment but one unified love and heart for the mission of The Salvation Army.
Our National Advisory Board members, Salvation Army officers and staff from around the country meet 3 times a year in various cities to not only plan and strategize Salvation Army as a whole but also visit and catch a glimpse into how the local Salvation Army is effectively meeting the need at the point of need in the community in which it resides.
Here in Nashville, we began Thursday, September 20th with a early morning breakfast in which we could meet and chat with our Board members, get to know them and receive an encouraging word from top Nashville business and community leaders, such as Charlie Bryan, Lifetime Nashville Advisory Board Member and Bert Mathews, President of The Mathews Company and Chairman of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. We had the privilege of hearing from our National Advisory Board Chair, Charlotte Jones Anderson, whose passion for The Army rang true as she stated, “compassion is not a spectator sport, everyone has to play.” Then, we concluded with words of encouragement from our National Commander, Commissioner William A. Roberts, who shared on why The Salvation Army does what it does each and every day, “we serve to emulate Christ.”
Later that evening, we held a special program in the gym of our Magness Potter Community Center that featured speakers who had a love for The Salvation Army as a result of impact from one or more of our programs and ministries. Our National Advisory Board members, local Advisory Board Members, officers and staff filled the tiny gym, anxious for the evening ahead. We were especially honored by the presence of Former First Lady of the United States and National Advisory Board Member, Laura Bush as well as her daughter Jenna who joined us!
With the help of Invested Productions and DWP Live who donated their talent and skills along with over a million dollars worth of audio/visual equipment, we were able to transform the gym into a 360 degree picture postcard that encircled our guests as they sat at their tables. At any given moment, snapshots of smiles, hugs, laughter, love, prayer, feeding, clothing, housing, encouraging and teaching adorned the flowing white canvas that served as our palette. A masterful work of art that depicted the lives changed over the past 122 years here at The Salvation Army-Nashville.
Tears, joy, victories and restoration were present within the stories shared by beneficiaries of our various programs. Among those, Lara Landon, member of The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship center and singer/songwriter in Nashville, Jimmy Wayne, country music artist, author and recipient of Angel Tree as a child and Mike Servais, staff member of The Salvation Army with a long history that traced back to a soup line in the 1920’s, Green Bay, WI that ended up being more than a meal for his grandmother and her children; it launched a legacy!
The theme of the night was Love Lives Here, but with each Board member and officer who came to visit, it was evident to us that Love Lives Everywhere and that within the souls of each one of us lies an opportunity to serve and create impact, no matter where we come from or what we’ve been through.
As we walked away from that incredibly busy but moving day, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the thousands of individuals and families who on any given day would enter our doors, seeking help. Those who felt they had no one to listen, no one to care and no one to guide them. Since 1890, the door has been open in Nashville and there has been an ear to hear, arms to hold and hands to lead, enabling each person to become all that God has desired them to be, mind, body and soul!
Love lives here and always will…….