National Commander featured at Gathering of Angels in Nashville

Dec 8, 2022 | by Brad Rowland

National Commander featured at Gathering of Angels in Nashville

By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee

When the USA National Commander, Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, issued his kettle challenge, he had no idea that it would take him to Nashville. The challenge issued nationwide focused on a four-hour period on December 3, 2021. The most successful fundraising effort would result in a visit by the National Commander the next year. When the Nashville Metropolitan Command emerged the winner, Captain Philip Canning, area commander, saw this as an opportunity to include Commissioner Hodder as the special guest for its annual Gathering of Angels. Approximately 150 business leaders and Salvation Army guests crowded into the auditorium of Cross Point Church for the breakfast meeting. 

The well-planned event included moving videos of impact stories of those who have benefitted from Salvation Army ministries in the area. Advisory Board Chairperson, Abby Spaulding opened, with Development Committee chair Tom Stumb taking over from there. 

The Servais family's story was portrayed, whose personal history has been interwoven with the development of The Salvation Army in Nashville for decades. It culminated with the announcement that Jay Servais had won the National Commander's Kettle Challenge. Last year, he and his supporters raised an incredible $276,252.80, blasting past all other competitors across the country. For his efforts, he was presented a plaque and received the happy news that he and his wife were to be special guests at the National Salvation Army Kettle Kickoff to be held on Thanksgiving Day at the Dallas Cowboys game. 

In his keynote address, Commissioner Hodder spoke of the opening days of the Army in Nashville when money was scarce, persecution was widespread and the pioneering work difficult. Referring to the open-air tactic of forming a circle, Hodder said, "Salvationists formed circles because of the opposition. They could look across and see someone who could encourage them. But they also did it because they found that lining up against a wall resulted in people just walking past. When they formed a circle they created a front row, making it easier for a crowd to gather. What was their message? They preached hope, love and victory. Not a sentimental kind of love but one that transforms coming only from God Himself. The Salvation Army sees those victories all the time. When we get out and serve the homeless, we win. When a child comes to our programs and sees possibilities for her life, we win. When we see someone kneel and accept Christ as Savior, we win big time." 

After speaking about other aspects of Army service, Hodder then came back to the idea of the circle. "You who are here are in that circle with us. You say with us, ‘We can do this.' Over your shoulder is a world that desperately needs what you have. They need that same victory. Angels are watching what will happen." 

Area commanders Captains Phil and Elaine Canning happily reported the Gathering of Angels successfully surpassed its goal of $300,000.

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