An Interview With Colonel Deborah Sedlar
By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee
Southern Spirit: Tell us about your family and where you are from.
Colonel Sedlar: My parents were Salvation Army officers. My mother was originally from Boston. My father was from a little place south of Pittsburgh, PA, called Monessen. While I was born in Maine, most of my upbringing was in Western Pennsylvania. Growing up, I was the middle daughter of five girls.
Southern Spirit: Tell us about your call to officership.
Colonel Sedlar: I felt the call to officership at a youth councils when I was 18. I was finishing my last year of high school and I knew, without a doubt, that I was called. However, shortly after that, my parents resigned from officership, and because I was old enough to be on my own, I found work and began to unravel what this meant to me. It was very challenging for me because I had only known my parents as Salvation Army officers. I found myself drifting from everything that I knew was right. That included The Salvation Army.
I settled in upstate New York and got a job working at a motel. I eventually became the manager. A few years later, there were two Salvation Army officers who showed up at my motel. They were actually investigating locations for an officers’ councils—but I knew them from Pittsburgh. Word got back to the divisional commander that I was there, and he sent the local corps officer to invite me to the corps. I made every excuse possible, but he was very convincing—so, I went.
It’s hard to ignore a warm welcome. It felt like I was being welcomed home. As I continued to be involved in the corps, I ultimately, renewed my relationship with the Lord. And it wasn’t not long before He was again urging me to answer the call of God on my life. At the point that I finally went to the training school. It was ten years after that early call to officership, but I knew that it was right.
Southern Spirit: What has been your most memorable Army experience?
Colonel Sedlar: Every appointment that I have had has been an amazing learning adventure. My horizons have been widened and my journey with Jesus has deepened every step of the way. I have learned to trust Him and rely upon His goodness.
I’m not sure that I can identify just one Army experience that stands out as the most memorable. Certainly, my ordination and commissioning experience was a highlight. My International College for Officer experience was definitely a highlight. But I was recently privileged to attend the commissioning of my sister! This is significant, because she has been called for a long time, but her husband had not been called. When his call finally came, they had already raised a family, experienced careers outside of the Army—but they chose to become Salvation Army officers through the Auxiliary Captain program. After 4 ½ years as A/Captains, my brother-in-law had a heart attack one week before Christmas. By the grace of God, he has recovered, but only through the miraculous power of God. In June, they were commissioned as full captains in the USA Central Territory. What a joy for me to witness!
Southern Spirit: How has your experience at IHQ changed you?
Colonel Sedlar: I have had two separate appointments on IHQ. I was appointed to IHQ in 2012 as the Under Secretary for the Americas Department. I had no aspirations to serve overseas, and I just did not want to go there. When I got to IHQ, it was a completely different world: a different way of working, a different way of living, and the UK was a very foreign land for me. But I came to learn a lot about myself and came to love the precious international family of officers, soldiers, employees who are part of IHQ. The experience humbled me beyond what I ever thought possible. It was a privilege to serve with amazing officers from all over the world and it forever changed my perspective on the Army and the ministries that we do.
I returned to the USA Eastern Territory after a three-year term, to serve as divisional commander. I believe that my experience at IHQ prepared me to be a “servant” leader, one who listens and is transparent. The General called and asked me to return to serve on his team. And that is where I have been for the last 4 ½ years—working hard, enjoying the fellowship, loving the Lord and praying every day that my life represents Him well enough for someone to see Jesus, and sense a desire to get to know Him.
Southern Spirit: As chief secretary you will be the highest ranking as well as first single woman to serve in that position. Share your thoughts about that.
Colonel Sedlar: I don’t like to think that I’m the highest ranking single woman anywhere—I’m just me. My father used to drill into our heads: to whom much is given, much is required! That means that the Lord will require even more of me—and my prayer is that He will continue to equip me, because Deb Sedlar is not enough—I need Jesus!
I love people and love to work and have fun! Prayer is very important in my life. I was privileged to meet with Commissioners Igleheart during the International Conference of Leaders. It was a privilege to pray with them over the territory and the days ahead. That prayer has not stopped! I continue to pray for this great territory, as I browse through the pages of the Dispo. I am not thinking about status or rank. But I am thinking about what the Lord has laid out for me to do in His name. I just want to be faithful! In order to do that, I will need people willing to also pray for me.
Southern Spirit: What do you hope your ministry in the Southern Territory will look like?
Colonel Sedlar: I want to do what 1 Peter suggests and what I’ve always wanted in my officership:
- I want to be compassionate shepherd who tenderly cares for His flock.
- I want to lead from the heart under God’s leadership.
- I want to be a humble and beautiful example of Jesus.
- I want whatever I do or say to bring glory to the name of Jesus.
Southern Spirit: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Colonel Sedlar: I’m looking forward to being in the Southern Territory and coming to know the beautiful spirit of the Army there. There are certainly some people that I know, and many others that I hope to be able to get to know. Thank you, in advance, for welcoming me as a part of your Army family! I’m so blessed!