Interview with Commissioners Kelly and Donna Igleheart
By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee
Southern Spirit: What were your first thoughts when you heard you were being appointed back to the Southern Territory as its leaders?
Commissioner Kelly: Returning home. The Southern Territory is our home territory and always will be. As young officers, we never dreamed of serving away from the South, but we were always open to it. The covenant signed by every officer comes with the understanding that we are willing to serve anywhere the Lord has need and the Army leadership believes we may be of use. In 2015, we received a call from International Headquarters giving us the opportunity to serve in the Southern Africa Territory. We were delighted to respond in the affirmative and by November of that year, landed in our new ‘home.’ In 2020 we were transferred to the USA Western Territory where we served until August 31st.
Leading the territory is also welcoming and yet has a certain weighty feel to it. The responsibility to lead a territory with the vastness of the South will cause us to continually rely on the providential care of our Lord. We do thank God for the officers, soldiers, employees, and volunteers who make up the heartbeat of the South.
Commissioner Donna: There was an overwhelming sense of joy and thanksgiving. There were many tears as well! HOME! There’s something heartwarming, welcoming, and familiar about the very thought. The privilege of serving in our beloved Southern Territory once again is a gift that I don’t take lightly. With the overwhelming sense of coming home it is helpful for me to remember—remember that the very One who has been with us from the beginning of our journey will be faithful to see us through once again. The Southern Territory is filled with a vast array of beautiful officers, soldiers, adherents, employees, and Army friends, which warms my heart thinking about them. Our communities are also filled with fantastic opportunity to share the love of Jesus. We know there will be tremendous and challenging days ahead. However, we come with an optimistic mindset, hopeful hearts, and focused confidence that God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Southern Spirit: What lessons/insights stand out most to you from your experience(s) in the Southern Africa Territory?
Commissioner Kelly: The Southern Africa Territory has within its boundaries five countries. A former General once told me that it is one of the most complex territories in the world. The myriad of cultures, languages, and history of its people allowed us to live and serve among a people who love the Lord with all of their hearts while also living in a richly diverse setting. Full immersion into an Army and a people allowed us to learn from their stories and their life experiences—vastly different than ours. Appreciating and caring for others taught us patience and understanding which translated into empathy for all. We are part of a growing Army that exudes energy and expectation that there was nothing that our Lord could not do. Lastly, I must add that the faith of the Salvationists was without borders. Their confidence in the power and provision of the Holy Spirit has now been embedded into our souls.
Commissioner Donna: There are many defining moments. There are still days when I think of our five years in the Southern Africa Territory where I am astounded by the opportunity we were given. We often say the Army is a small world. The unfamiliar faces, cultures, and diversity were all opportunities to embrace and learn from places beyond our own borders. We had the reward of leaning in and listening to their stories, breaking bread, and having tea, watching a vibrant Army in the streets, not as sideline observers but in step with our brothers and sisters. I witnessed women who stood for the rights of all women, marched against injustice, counted the cost, and never hesitated to take a stand in love and grace. But make no mistake. They were godly women warriors on a mission. The women were fierce champions for each other, for vulnerable children, and they gave me a seat at their tables to engage in conversation. I was reminded that finances are critical to mission but more important is faith. Fervent prayer and daily reliance on God to provide became so beautifully rooted in our daily routine. I found my life and ministry transformed from the inside out.
Southern Spirit: What lessons/insights stand out most to you from your experience(s) in the USA Western Territory?
Commissioner Kelly: One observation that I have made that sometimes separates the West from other territories is the willingness to experiment and be more risk tolerant. New initiatives are created out of necessity and welcomed at every level. It is a fostered mentality that is embraced and encouraged within the Army structure.
Commissioner Donna: Once again, we were asked to love and serve in the unfamiliar. Once again, we were strangers who were welcomed and loved. We were reminded that every step of our journey was necessary to prepare our hearts and character for the next chapter. The West offered us a beautiful soft landing back into the USA.
We quickly found ourselves among brave officers and staff called to the frontlines day after day, serving suffering humanity in Jesus’ name during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Encouragement gives courage! This would be our purpose, Lord willing. With all the beautiful innovative programs and initiations within the Western Territory, there are simply people who need to know they are seen, loved, and prayed for.
Southern Spirit: What would you like to see accomplished during your time as the territorial leaders?
Commissioner Kelly: It may be too early to adequately respond to this great question. Certainly, souls saved, and people born into the Kingdom of God would be foremost in my heart. Then to see these souls discipled into mature soldiers would follow. We also have a passion for youth and young adults. To have a robust Army that provides opportunities for the future would be rewarding and encouraging.
Commissioner Donna: To be faithful to what God has called us to do. To walk in holy boldness asking God to fill us with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that His Word would be our compass. That God would make us keenly aware that the field needs more champions and to ask God to help us recognize defining moments where impact and effectiveness coincide. Together, we can celebrate the victories won! To celebrate whenever possible, every man, woman, and precious child who is born into the Kingdom of God. To be coworkers in the vineyard and together create an atmosphere of welcome so that those not in the Church would come to find their place! A place of healing, restoration, salvation, and service, in Jesus’ name. To love the Church and love His people.
Southern Spirit: What one message would you like to get out to Salvationists in the Southern Territory?
Commissioner Kelly: To keep the faith, to look in great anticipation for the coming of our Lord. To remind them that we are not holding on until Jesus returns but are called to live a vibrant and full life in His name today. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Commissioner Donna: There is a place for you. Everyone is welcome in the Southern Territory. Of course, hospitality is an important part of what it means to be from the South. But, it is also an important part of what it means to be in The Salvation Army. We want to always be extending Jesus’ radical welcome of all people.
Southern Spirit: What do you see as the greatest need in the Southern Territory? How will you address it?
Commissioner Kelly: We have been away from the Southern Territory for seven years. And because of this, I am certain that many needs exist that I am not fully aware of. I believe that there are good questions being asked of officers, about their spiritual lives and vitality. I am keenly interested in coming alongside our officers and supporting them as needed. Additionally, our Army is not unique to other Christian denominations in that we are effected by the global pressures placed upon the Church. These include the temptation to accept cultural norms and watering down the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Army must not yield to modern day flack that seeks to ensnare us and draw our attention away from the proclamation of the gospel. Our united response to preach the Bible, to love humankind, and to serve others in His name without discrimination is paramount.
Commissioner Donna: Having been away for seven years, responding to this question is a challenge. Once we arrive and have an opportunity to listen and engage, we will have a deeper understanding. We are aware every territory has encountered challenges in recent years and the South is not an exception. The Word of God reminds us, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” I am confident in His promises and find peace in His Holy presence.
Southern Spirit: What do you see as the greatest strength in the Southern Territory? How will you enhance it?
Commissioner Kelly: Our strength is found in the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures and the Spirit is all that we have and all that we need. Our total reliance on Scripture is the bedrock of our Army and we cannot waver from it. Additionally, we continue to embrace our Salvation Army distinctives and enhance them at every opportunity. I believe that our soldiers, adherents, volunteers, and employees make up a contingent of mighty warriors who together fight against sin and evil in this world. My experience with the Army in the South is that its people are resilient. Many of our people are survivors and they desire to move towards thriving. We have survived COVID, disasters, and countless other life calamities. By the grace of God, let’s rise up and seize the day, the appointed day of the Lord for His Army. I want to see this take place urgently for all who will follow the lead of our Great Commander, Jesus Christ.
Commissioner Donna: Over the past few years, I have been privileged to attend sessions where leaders from other organizations or churches would come to speak to leaders within The Salvation Army. Almost without fail, each speaker would share in their closing comments the very same challenge, “Don’t stop being The Salvation Army!” Every day, people facing insurmountable obstacles turn to The Salvation Army for help. Our strength is the message that we proclaim! Motivated by love, we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and we meet the needs of suffering humanity in His name.
Southern Spirit: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Commissioner Kelly: Pray for us. Countless are the notes, cards, emails, and letters that remind us, “We are praying for you.” Living in South Africa for five years, it was these reminders that sustained us. Transferring to the West, these comments and words strengthened us. And now coming home and living with and serving the people of the South, it is the prayers of the saints that builds our faith in Him. First Thessalonians 5:22, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” We march in holy boldness for our cause and for our King!
Commissioner Donna: Hope for the world today is stronger than ever. While our challenges are often great and the attacks of the enemy unrelenting, God is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? Jesus has given me so many reasons to trust Him. Along with all of our friends across the South, I am extremely eager to trust Him together.