In 1894 the bell ringing and service to our community began. Each year at Christmas and even throughout the community benefits from one organization often leading the way.
Over the years Beverly and I have been blessed to know many of the officers who organize programs of the Portsmouth Salvation Army.
But did you know that each week they offer a wonderful church service in a very nice sanctuary within their organization headquarters on Ninth Street?
By attending one of their worship services Chris and Stephanie Neff, plus Beverly and I achieved the title of soldiers.
But first, let me share a little more about this important community program we know to be the Salvation Army! This weekend I learned that the Salvation Army logo and flag include Blood and Fire!
While the familiar red shield (Crest) most of us are familiar with is an internationally-recognized symbol of the Salvation Army a service to those in need, the lesser noticed logo is a meaningful symbol of the Army church beliefs.
The Salvation Army crest was designed in 1878 when The Christian Mission changed its name to The Salvation Army and began adopting a military-style with uniforms and military terms. Today, Salvation Army centers worldwide use the crest, translating the words on it into their own language into I believe it was said, 165 countries!
This logo has particular relevance for Salvation Army church members because it reminds them of important features within their faith.
LOGO: The sun represents the light and fire of the Holy Spirit.
The cross of Jesus stands at the center of the logo and the faith of church members.
The ‘S’ stands for salvation from sin.
The swords represent the fight against sin.
The shots (seven white dots) stand for the truths of the gospel.
The crown speaks of God’s reward to his faithful people.
“Blood and Fire” is the motto of The Salvation Army that describes the blood of Jesus shed on the cross to save all people and the fire of the Holy Spirit which purifies believers.
The Salvation Army Mission Statement: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
Attending a church service at the Salvation Army was very special. We walked in at the beginning of their Sunday School service and was greeted by Soldier/Teacher Robert Richards.
Richards’ message was a blessing to those in attendance. He pointed out that eight scriptures in the Bible point out that we should love the Lord with all our heart. He said that each of us needs to study the bible and we owe God all our time as well as those within our families.
Richards said he studied and outlined 20 Bibles over 20 years before teaching at the Salvation Army Church. He has now led Sunday School here for eight years.
He shared from Roman’s 38, speaking of the Transforming Power of Jesus Christ, also pointing out that you cannot share the word of God without loving people just as God loves us.
At one point in his teaching, someone told Richards he didn’t seem like he was real comfortable in what he was wearing (a suit and tie), so that is when he transformed into his uniform as a soldier of the Salvation Army.
To become a soldier of the Salvation Army one must decide to join their church and take doctrine classes and sign a doctrine of war.
Richards also served as a soldier for the US Marine Corps for eight years. Following his service during years of life where he did not know the Lord he had become mean and angry. He credited the Salvation Army for saving his life. God saved me with his transforming love. Our God is a God of love. True love is of God and not of the world.
There is a lot of ugliness in the world but God gives us love and transforms us upon death into eternal life. What is important is that God’s word in our life is free. God gives us a true heart and mind. There is nothing false in God. If we look for him we will find Jesus. The Bible says he is the way, the truth and the life. We need to follow Christ’s word and not follow the world!
He asked the congregation if they believe in the Holy Ghost? The power helps us to accept and calm our anger. It is has been with us for a thousand years helping us to find unity with our lives and all around us.
We cannot deny the Father, Son or Holy Ghost! The father figure in our lives is our Jesus. He helps us to be who we are supposed to be.
I liked his analogy of how when we go into a kitchen we use menus to correctly prepare our meals. We go to our Bibles to find the recipe to follow Jesus. It helps us to bring the unity of Christ into our lives.
During a church discussion, I learned that Richards’ sister Dianne Spencer has been coming to the Salvation Army Church since she was five years old. We learned that also in attendance was Michelle Myrtle who works the organization’s front desk.
So it was time for our friend Misty Gatchel Simco to offer welcome, prayers, to lead a beautiful hymn service and then she served as the day’s pastor. Misty’s husband Dan is the church pastor but was with other men of the church attending a men’s retreat at the Salvation Army Camp Swonaky.
Both Misty and Dan are officers of the local Salvation Army and have served the Portsmouth area going into their third year. They are both captains having graduated from the Salvation Army Suffern College for officer training in Suffern, New York.
Misty explained that their background music is prerecorded for the service and that worked nicely. Their youth program is very impressive with a nice group of children that come to them for church and special youth activities. On Tuesday’s Misty has children come into the church to help with classwork tutoring recreational activities, Bible study and snacks! There is no charge for this and more information can be obtained by calling the Salvation Army.
A walkabout to meet with fellow worshipers was very nice and we got to shake hands with every last person. Then we sang, “Here we are to worship.”
In part of Misty’s opening prayer she said, “Heavenly Father, we come here today in this morning’s worship to you…. Light of the world. While we are breathing in and out, each knowing that God is more important than ourselves. If any of you here today feel the need to be lifted up, please seek to do that right now. If there are any in your lives that need lifted up in prayer do so now. Father, you know our hearts and the needs we have. You promised us that where two or more are gathered you would be there. Though we may have fear or anxiety you still are at the helm. Forgive us for the times we have tried to lead the helm in our lives. We wish to glorify you Jesus with obedience! In Jesus name, Amen!”
Throughout Misty’s sermon, she expanded some on Richards’ message of the morning discussing love and spirituality in the church sharing a video and covering Ephesians 5: 1–21.
She said that as children of light we should not hide our faith under the bushel, we should let it shine. How many of you remember that song from your childhood bible school.
Lastly she included that if we don’t tell others about Jesus and what he means to us how are they going to know?
Our lovely closing song was Holy Holy Holy, Lord God almighty. If you have never been to the Salvation Army Church, then why don’t you plan it into your schedule to visit this very nice little church family of faith!
Following today’s service, Misty accompanied Beverly, I and the Neffs to the Saint Mary’s International Festival, another wonderful annual community event. Put that on your schedule for next year as well!
As believers, let us share the Good News! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world! Each one… Reach one! See ya in church!
Reach Randy Rucker at [email protected]