National Commander helps The Salvation Army kick off Christmas season in Memphis
By: Brad Rowland
More than 120 years ago, five churches in the greater Memphis area helped to pave the way for The Salvation Army’s arrival and future work. On Sunday, Nov. 14, one of those churches, Second Presbyterian Church on Poplar Avenue, hosted a concert to kick off The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in the city for the 2021 season. In addition to its purpose of commemorating past work and setting the table for a vibrant Christmas season, the kick-off event also featured a visit from Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, National Commander, and a brass band featuring Salvationist musicians from across the Southeast.
Commissioner Hodder harkened back to the invitation from five churches, recalling a “hot July” when The Salvation Army marched into to Memphis. Beyond that history, however, Commissioner Hodder conveyed the great need The Salvation Army is aiming to help fill during his holiday season, and reminded those in attendance of what the red kettle symbolizes.
“The Red Kettle is a symbol of the Salvation Army’s service to America,” said Commissioner Hodder. “A Red Kettle Kickoff is a special occasion where you bring the community together, say we commit ourselves to helping others in the community through The Salvation Army.”
In addition to the kick-off concert, members of The Salvation Army’s advisory board and women’s auxiliary engaged with the national commander at a reception. Teen volunteers from GPS (Give, Pray, Serve) helped to facilitate the event and provide logistical support, in an effort to make the kick-off run like a well-oiled machine.
The Salvation Army is aiming to raise $901,000 through the kettle program during the 2021 Christmas season, tying the community’s area code (901) to a fundraising benchmark that captures attention locally. While there is plenty of work to do, the visit of the national commander and a festive kickoff event inspired excitement for The Salvation Army in Memphis.
“I am very proud of our Memphis Development Team, Advisory Board, and Women’s Auxiliary for the hard work and attention to the many details that made this event a success,” said Captain Mark Hunter, Memphis area commander. “The Kettle Kickoff made me very proud of The Salvation Army and the Memphis Community.”
“This year’s Kettle Kickoff was by far the best I have ever attended,” Captain Hunter continued. “Commissioner Hodder did an amazing job energizing those in attendance as well as challenging us all to keep Hope Marching On. The Salvation Army band was amazing in their performance and, with every note played, joy, peace, love, and hope filled the chapel ushering in a wonderful Christmas Spirit.”