A Goldmine of Soldiers Through One Act: The Story of Roger Lane
By: Major Frank Duracher
Back in 2017, the Port Charlotte Corps needed someone to head up the praise and worship team performing every Sunday. The corps officer decided to check out a local music store, asking a music instructor there if a young man or woman came to mind who would be available for hire. Little did Major Ed Binnix know what tremendous fruit would result for the Kingdom and the Army from that innocuous question.
“That was how my name was given to Major Binnix,” explains Roger Lane, the young man suggested as a good fit. “I had been taking guitar lessons, and my instructor suggested me. Major Ed hired me and back then I was paid to play and sing with the group every Sunday.”
But another momentous thing happened on the first Sunday Roger was “on duty.”
“Roger was just 14 then and didn’t have his driver’s license, so I had to drive him here to the corps,” says Roger’s grandmother, Lola Ruble. “Besides,” she admits with a grin, “I knew a little about The Salvation Army, but wanted to check it out to see what (doctrine) the Army was teaching.”
Even Roger’s sister, Katie Lane, got in the car to see what was going on. The three explorers came away so welcomed and loved, they kept coming. A cousin, Libby, later joined in attending as well.
Not long after Roger began his paid gig, Majors Ed and Carla Binnix were transferred to Panama City, Florida. The incoming Port Charlotte corps officers are Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno.
Within the first few weeks of the Rosenos’ arrival, “Captain Israel asked me a question,” Roger says. “Am I doing the (praise and worship participation) out of my love for God; or was it just a gig for the money?” The question struck a chord.
Roger and Lola were enrolled as soldiers the following year, while other family members continued to attend corps activities.
If we stopped there, this story would be impressive enough. But as the infomercials blare out, “Wait, there’s more!”
“Roger and I were classmates in high school when we began dating,” says Roger’s girlfriend, Erica Tejada. “Roger kept asking me to come to church with him, but my family was already involved in another church. I did come once before COVID, and I liked it. But when COVID hit, my church closed down, and I started coming here while we were doing online worship with the praise and worship team.” So, when in-person Sunday services were resumed, Erica naturally kept attending.
Erica, an accomplished singer, had found a place in the praise and worship team and became a soldier, herself, a few years later. Her mother and stepdad now attend the corps as well. In fact, her mom is considering soldiership.
Meanwhile, grandmother Lola started teaching the adult Sunday School class and was installed as Corps Sergeant-Major (CSM).
“I quickly found many things for me to do here,” Lola explains. “There is a wide variety of cultures and diversity. That is important to me. I felt at home right away.”
Before becoming CSM, she spent one year as an assistant-CSM, following the mentoring of Lt. Colonel John Needham. “I wanted to know how to do the job right!” she says.
Roger has attended Territorial Music Institute (TMI) every year since, coming home with outstanding awards. “It was at my first TMI in 2019 that I was impressed with the importance of soldiership,” he says.
He is a Florida Divisional Music and Arts member, as well as in the Divisional Praise Band. He plays guitar and keyboard in the corps praise and worship team (“now without pay since I am a soldier!”), as well as vocals. Roger is a student at Valencia College, on a pathway toward an associate science degree in music/sound technician.
Following graduation, Roger hopes to compose music for the Army, while remaining active in his corps and the division. He is also working on his skills on drums, sax, harmonica, clarinet, and is “even dabbling in trombone.”
“Years ago, I would never would have thought I’d be a part of The Salvation Army, and especially in music,” Roger admits. “At the time I just needed the money.”
Erica also attended TMI where she was introduced to timbrels. (“What is that all about,” I first thought.) The following New Year’s Day, she marched in the Rose Bowl Parade playing her timbrel.
She is a member of the Florida Divisional Creative Arts, where she excels in timbrels, vocals, and her other passion, theater (Erica played the lead role in a high school production of the musical, Aida). She’s even worked at the division’s Camp Keystone last summer as a counselor. She is currently enrolled in Florida Southwestern State College, working on an Associate of Arts Degree in Education.
“I didn’t know The Salvation Army was so big, and with such a huge emphasis on music and creative arts,” Erica says.
Roger’s cousin, Libby Myers, also a TMI alum, now lives in Nashville, enrolled at Trevecca Nazarene University with an eye on music, voice, and music production. She attends the Nashville South Corps when she is not involved in worship services at the college.
Today, the trio of Roger, Erica, and Lola are uniformed Blood & Fire soldiers. Even after severe damage to Lola’s home brought by Hurricane Ian, these soldiers are still at their posts.
What God has wrought in Port Charlotte over the past five years has been likened to a dormant tree branch that bursts many blossoms, overnight.
“God laid on Major Binnix’s heart to obtain one person to help out with our praise music,” Captain Claudia Roseno observes, “but God had even bigger plans in mind!”