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Salvation Army To Step-Up Operations In TCI with Opening Of New Building

The newly constructed Salvation Army building located along the Leeward Highway in Providenciales is geared to becoming an integral part of the Turks and Caicos Islands with the offering of a number of social programmes especially for young people.

According to local administrators, as well as the regional overseers, who flew into the Turks and Caicos Islands to officially commission the facility.

The building would serve as a multipurpose entity, catering meals for the needy including school children, a women’s crisis centre, a skills training centre, a hurricane shelter.

The building is also available to rent for occasions such as weddings and receptions, trainings, graduations, and other events. And according to the administrations, the fees would not be exorbitant.

Commissioner Devon Haughton, the Caribbean Territorial Commander for the Salvation.

Commissioner Devon Haughton, Territorial Commander for the Salvation Army, his wife Commissioner Verona Haughton, Territorial President of the Salvation Army Women’s Ministry, and Major Roodolph Meo, Divisional Commander for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, all flew into the Turks and Caicos Islands to join the local administrators, Major Ernest Gachelin and his wife Major Germanie Gachelin, to mark the occasion.

Commissioner Verona Haughton, Territorial President of the Salvation Army Women’s Ministry

Major Meo explained that the building, which is equipped with male and female bathrooms, shower, and laundry areas, would be used as a crisis centre for abused women and girls. It would also be used as an emergency shelter in a time of natural and other disasters.

He said the Salvation Army has already been providing hot meals for children across Providenciales, but with its own state-of-the-art kitchen, should be able to serve even better.

“It means that the money that we would have spent, buying that food from a third party, would now stay in our own facility, which means that we would now be feeding an additional mouth,” Major Meo told NewslineTCI.

Major Roodolph Meo, Divisional Commander for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands

He also said that with the new facility, the Salvation Army would embark on a programme to guide young people away from a life of crime.

“This year we are trying to see how we can get the young men off the street, and try to change their minds from violence, from gangs and towards salvation,” he asserted.

He added: “This edifice is going to be the lighthouse of Turks and Caicos. This edifice is gearing towards helping to get these young people out of the trap that that is going on here, so that we can give them a chance in life to succeed. And we have been doing that without an edifice. But having it now, is going to put the seal to the deal.”

For his part, Commissioner Haughton, a 42-year veteran of the organization founded 1875, and the first Jamaican to serve in that capacity in 136 years, said people in Turks and Caicos should now see a more visible Salvation in their community.

Local Salvation Army Administrators, Major Ernest Gachelin

Commission Haughton, who oversees 16 countries across the region, stated that the Salvation Army’s mission is unique, stating that its purpose is not just to set-up churches, but to minister in every sense of the word.

“In the Salvation Army, one of our slogans that we use very often is ‘Soup, Soul and Salvation’, and also ‘Heart to God, and Hands to Man’,” he stated. “So, our drive is to bring a ministry that would touch the social fabric of this island…to be ready and available to address some of the immediate needs as we get the opportunity to do so.”

He added: “When we first got here, we did not setup a church, (but) we started to move into schools because we wanted to bring programmes to the young people of this country, and so we started with soup kitchens, we started providing meals for some of the schools.”

He stated that the Salvation Army has always been described as a mission, not necessarily a church.

“The Salvation was always described as a mission…a movement with the slogan, ‘Geared to the times, but anchored in the Rock’. Another slogan is to ‘Save Souls, Grow Saints, and Serve Suffering Humanity’. Those are not something that we put in as cliques, but those are our ministry,” Commissioner Haughton asserted.

The new Salvation Army building located along the Leeward Highway on Providenciales

“One of the challenges is that that persons see the social movement of the Salvation Army, but a lot of times they are not aligning it with our Christian commitment and our first allegiance, which is to Almighty God. So, everything that we do stems out of our relationship with God…that’s our foundation.

“We are not doing this because we are just good people…we are doing this because God has transformed our lives and has allowed us to see his heart, because when you read scripture, the Jesus you find in scripture is a Jesus of Compassion…a Jesus, who is bold with the needs of people… and even with the fish and bread and the multiplication of that was to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and be a friend to those who don’t have any friends.

“So, that is what we bring to Turks and Caicos. We are not here to get from Turks and Caicos, we are here to give to Turks and Caicos…. we are partners in mission.”

In the meantime, Commander Haughton disclosed that most of the resources used to construct the building came from the kind donation from the Turks and Caicos people and businesses.

“I want the people of Turks and Caicos to know that we appreciate it, we thank them, we thank the government, we thank the private sector, we thank the public sector, we thank the architect. We thank all the persons who have been just embracing the mission,” said the Regional Commissioner.

For her part, Commissioner Verona Haughton, Territorial President of the Salvation Army Women’s Ministry, overseeing the development of women within the 16 Salvation Army territories throughout the Caribbean, said her mission is to grow women for Christ through the various programmes.

“Women form an integral part of Nation Building, and so, the areas that we are looking at is their own personal development…sustainable development. That is ongoing just now and will continue,” she said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Salvation Army is the 131st of the 133 organisations worldwide, and it is the youngest such entity in the region, having been officially commissioned in 2011, despite working here long before that.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2016, according to Commissioner Devon Haughton, the Salvation Army mobilized millions of dollars to assist with recovery.

“We have served the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands without fanfare,” he revealed.

Commissioner Haughton is, in the meantime, reminding the Turks and Caicos Islands that while the Salvation caters to the downtrodden, outcasts, the frustrated, it is also open to the rich and the famous.

“It is not a church for just one sector or set of society, but it is holistic in its ministry. And so, if persons are looking for a place to worship, and to fellowship, the Salvation Army is open to any person…even if you are a member of another denomination. We don’t discriminate against any race, color, creed, religion,” he said.

The salvation Army, for now, conducts two services on Sundays…9a.m. and 10:30a.m. Other services, including Bible study, are held in the interim via WhatsApp.


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