Family Camp serves as a celebration of God’s faithfulness for Kentucky & Tennessee Division

By: Eric Short

God’s faithfulness was on full display during the weekend of August 19-21, 2022, at Camp Paradise Valley, as the Kentucky & Tennessee division gathered for Family Camp. The picturesque setting along Dale Hollow Lake, straddling the two states, served as the backdrop to a weekend of celebration. Several major milestones were marked, including the celebration of the camp’s 50th anniversary, a farewell to the retiring Southern Territorial Leaders, the installation of new divisional leaders for the Kentucky & Tennessee Division, and the rededication of a lakeside cross to a former divisional leader. 

The weekend began on Friday with an evening worship session. The Kentucky & Tennessee Divisional Band and Praise Team each lifted up the congregants and made way for the introduction of officers new to the division, including the new divisional leaders, Majors Tom and Julie Anne Louden. The main message of the session was given by Major Tom Louden, entitled ‘Faith to Believe and Do.’ 

Saturday kicked off early with coffee and breakfast, and quickly moved to Session II, where Major Louden recognized the division’s Emergency Disaster Services team, fresh off their deployment in response to the recent historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky. He also recognized their work in the December 2021 tornado outbreak in Western Kentucky. 

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of Camp Paradise Valley was in full swing on Saturday, with all the participants gathering on the Great Lawn in front of the chapel for an aerial shot, where they formed letters and numbers to spell out ‘CPV 50’ in the grass. After this, a time capsule was loaded with items from around the division, including several small Blood & Fire flags signed by divisional officers, employees, and volunteers. The time capsule is set to be opened in 25 years by future campers and staff. 

From there, a new three-mile hiking trail was dedicated near the ballfield. Finally, a special evening session featured a performance by Sisters, a six-time Gospel Music Female Group of the Year, and the group delivered an inspiring performance to those gathered. 

“This place is called Paradise for a reason, and this weekend we gather and celebrate God’s faithfulness here. But while the beauty and special event can fit the description of Paradise, it’s you, the people who make it so,” said Major Tom Louden to those gathered at the event. 

Major Zach Bell, General Secretary for the Kentucky & Tennessee Division, added, “The Lord has met with me in special ways all throughout my life at this camp. From a camper to staff member, and now officer, God has met me here, and I pray that He continues to do so with me and all of us in the days and years to come.” 

Sunday began with the rededication of the lakeside cross. The cross was dedicated as ‘Charlie’s Cross,’ named in honor of the late divisional commander, Lt. Colonel Charles White. Lt. Colonel White was instrumental in the camp’s development, including overseeing the development of the main lodge and chapel, which opened in 2004. 

Sunday morning worship featured the installation of Majors Louden as divisional leaders, one of the last official duties carried out by retiring Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell. The theme of the entire service was ‘Anchored,’ as various Scripture was referenced to encourage congregants to be anchored in faith, hope, and by God’s love and grace. 

Majors Louden are lifelong Salvationists and come to the Kentucky & Tennessee Division with 27 years of faithful officer service under their belt. They have served in such places as Sand Springs, Oklahoma, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, North and South Carolina Division, and most recently, Major Tom served for five years as the President of The Evangeline Booth College and Principal for the School for Officer Training. 

Simultaneously, Major Julie Anne served as the Assistant Principal for Ministry Development and Campus Life at EBC. Majors Louden have four grown children and two grandchildren, and they consider their marriage, parenting of their children, loving and spending time with their grandchildren and their calling to be officers in The Salvation Army as their most sacred covenants. 

With so many examples of God’s faithfulness to celebrate over the three days, participants at Family Camp left with a renewed sense of hope, love, and determination to carry out The Salvation Army’s mission of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the lost and the least, and of meeting human needs in His name. They look back with pride at what the last 50 years of Camp Paradise Valley has meant to those whose lives have been forever changed for the better as a result and look forward to the next 50 years of seeing God’s faithfulness carried out in the Kentucky & Tennessee Division.