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Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener took office as Southern territorial commander and territorial president of women's ministries this past summer and were installed at the Southern Bible Conference at Lake Junaluska, N.C., in August. In his message at the installation and welcome, the territorial commander called for the USA Southern Territory to recommit to proclaiming the lordship of Jesus and telling the world the good news of salvation. The TC recently shared his thoughts about the opportunities and challenges ahead with Southern Spirit editor Dan Childs.

 

Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener

 

Southern Spirit: After three months as the territorial commander, and two years as chief secretary prior to that, you have had the opportunity to become well-acquainted with the Southern Territory, its people, its heritage, its culture, and to consider the course it needs to chart. Where do you want to lead the territory?

 

MF: We must be careful not to get so focused on doing the good and important work The Salvation Army does that we forget our No. 1 task, which is to lift up Jesus Christ to a lost world. That is our mandate and it must remain our focus. We exist to call people to Christ - we are in business for Jesus. In his first words to The Salvation Army, following his election as our International Leader, General Shaw Clifton challenged us to be a Christ-centered Army, a Calvary-focused Army, a compassionate Army and a doctrinally sound Army. May it be so!

 

Southern Spirit: What is the overall condition of this territory now, in terms of its ability to effectively lift up Jesus? What is the USA South doing effectively now in that regard? Where does it need to adjust or improve?

 

MF: There are a lot of wonderful things happening throughout the territory and we want to continue to build on that. We recently spent a weekend with the Territorial Executive Council, and felt very much the powerful and unmistakable presence of God with us. We also had several days of cabinet planning recently that I believe were extremely helpful. We have been looking at some very specific issues as it relates to the ongoing mission of the Territory and are making some changes, we believe, that will have a positive impact at the front lines...where the real heart of ministry is taking place. We will have more to say about this in the days and weeks ahead without doubt. When Lennie and I first met with the Territorial Executive Leadership back in July, I presented a number of questions that have been the basis of much of our discussion over the past several weeks...those questions were made available to every active officer in the territory and the various responses have certainly helped us to stay focused on the mission.

 

 

Southern Spirit: The Church today is undergoing a deep re-examination of how it is relating to both believers and non-believers and how it can be as relevant as possible. What do you feel The Salvation Army, as a church, should be doing to be in order to grow stronger and more effective?

 

MF: Lennie and I felt during our years as corps officers, and we still feel, that certain things are critical to the growth of the Kingdom and of the corps. I shared these priorities with the members of the TEC and the Cabinet, and we are using them to help us direct and shape our strategy for the Southern Territory.

First, we want to emphasize effective prayer, giving special attention to the prayer meeting. There is so much power in prayer!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land - 2 Chronicles 7:14. We want to be an Army in prayer. We will focus on our Sunday schools, realizing that it is there that we have such a rich opportunity to build disciples of Jesus. Of course this will involve developing a strong discipleship focus for the territory and we are particularly giving emphasis to that during the Ordination and Commissioning weekend in June of '07. We will have much more to say about this in the days ahead.

We also want to put a strong emphasis on visitation, to reach out into the communities around us and form relationships, meaningful relationships with our neighbors. We are much more effective in ministering to our people if we know them personally. Now I know that we will need to be creative in terms of accomplishing this, but it can and must be done.

Finally, we are going to give special attention to the way we worship. Our goal is to worship in a way that is meaningful, substantive and nourishing. We want our worship to honor and glorify God, and we want it to create an atmosphere of spiritual growth and renewal for the worshipper. These principles are nothing new - they are the same priorities that have been with us from the beginning, but we want to embrace them in a way that will bring a spirit of freshness and vitality to our experience as Salvationists and as disciples of Jesus.

 

Southern Spirit: You recently appointed two officer couples to territorial staff positions. One of those appointments will focus on holiness, and the other on mission. How do those appointments tie in with your vision for the territory?

 

MF: We need to be much more intentional in the preaching and teaching of holiness. Holiness is at the very core of who we are and what we do as Salvationists - it is the central part of our identity and experience. Samuel Logan Brengle wrote that "the Army's outreach to the lost is built on the foundation of the forgiveness of sins through obedient faith in a crucified and risen Christ and the purifying of the heart and empowering of the soul through the anointing of the Holy Spirit." All that we do and all that we are rest upon the doctrine of holiness. I believe we need to reconnect with this standard, maintain it and build on it. We must be people with ‘clean hands and pure hearts.' To help us do that, I have appointed Lt. Colonels Don and Connie Canning (see photo below) as our territorial ambassadors for holiness. They will travel all across the territory, meeting the officers and soldiers in town hall-style meetings, rallies, corps meetings and other events. They will be available to corps as a holiness resource so to speak...at no expense I might add. I am requesting divisional leaders and all officers to take advantage of this opportunity...the Colonels are available and ready.

Also, I have appointed Majors Dalton and Casey Cunningham (see photo below) as our territorial ambassadors for the mission. They will be territorial travelers as well, visiting with Salvationists in all the divisions supporting the various ministry units in the carrying out of the objectives and priorities that relate to the mission. The Cunninghams are gifted speakers and passionate about ministry effectiveness. Again, I am requesting divisional leaders and all officers to give wide exposure to the majors as they take on this exciting challenge. We have made some wonderful advances in mission in recent years and we must continue to advance and build on what has been accomplished so far and I believe Majors Cunningham, under God, will help make that happen.

Southern Spirit: And the Feeners will be out and about often as well, I presume?

 

MF: You can count on that! Commissioner Lennie and I will travel extensively throughout the territory over the next several months, and we are looking forward to it. We want to meet as many of the officers and soldiers of our great territory as we can. We want to get acquainted with our fellow Southern Salvationists and assure them of our love and support as they faithfully serve God on the front lines. This territory is blessed with great officers and soldiers and, of course, we also have so many wonderful and supportive friends, including board members, volunteers, staff and employees ...we can't help but be effective. These are exciting days, and we are confident that God will provide an extraordinary movement of the Spirit and extraordinary things will happen as a result. Commissioner Lennie and I value and appreciate the impact of the strong prayer support coming from this territory. Thank you for that.

 

 

 

 

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