14 March 2024

Appointments 2024: All change

Major Julie Johnson

A photo shows a key the lock of a front door. From the key hangs a house-shaped keyring.

Major Julie Johnson encourages us to pray for leaders as the annual change of appointments is announced.

Most people face big changes at some point in their lives. That might be moving school, going to university, starting a new job, leaving family and friends or moving out of the family home. Each can be stressful on their own, but what if you faced them all at the same time?

Today (14 March), officers, territorial envoys and cadets will receive news about their appointments ahead of the annual move in July. Thank goodness that the days have gone when cadets being commissioned would sit in the Royal Albert Hall waiting to hear where they would be appointed in just two weeks’ time! And thank goodness that appointments are no longer sent out six weeks before an officer is expected to move! Time and space are now given to work things through.

Moving is often an overwhelming and emotional experience. These days, those in ministry receive early consultations to help determine whether a move would be right for them before each year’s Territorial Appointments Conference – a time saturated in prayer. As helpful as this is, it still does not take away the emotions and anxieties that a change of appointment can bring.

Most people can choose where they will live and what they do for work, but spiritual leaders in the Army surrender that choice when they accept God’s calling into full-time ministry. It isn’t a one-off sacrifice: each new appointment requires a constant ‘yes’ to surrender to God things that have become precious. People they have grown to love. Places that have become home.

I remember leaving a much-loved appointment and, as we drove away, our two children sobbed. They were leaving a place where they had spent their formative years and made many friends. They wanted to go home! I remember saying that our home wasn’t the house we had just left: it was us, and we were going together. I assured them that God was with us and was already ahead of us preparing us for the next part of the journey.

So how can you help and support those facing change as they continue to honour their calling?

If your current corps leader will be moving in July, pray for them as they process the news. Give them time. Pray for their children and wider family as they contemplate losing the familiar. Show a genuine display of appreciation and celebration for their ministry.

If you have a new corps leader on the way this summer, be welcoming – remember that some corps will not have a leader. Be grateful – honour your leader’s ‘yes’ and obedience to God. Be patient – give them time to settle. Be kind – consider what they have left behind. Be respectful – they might be new to your corps, but they will have experience. Be together – build relationships and pray for their ministry to flourish.

Paul’s words in Philippians 4 have been a constant in my journey of saying ‘yes’: ‘Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ’ (vv6 and 7 The Passion Translation).

Reflect and respond

Written by

A photo of Julie Johnson.

Major Julie Johnson

Assistant Territorial Candidates’ Director, William Booth College

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