Salvation Army Commissioners James and Ruth Osborne, retired leaders of the national Salvation Army organization, have begun their interim command of Johnson City Salvation Army Corps.
The Osbornes, who will stay in Johnson City until new corps commanders are appointed here in June, will fill a temporary vacancy created by the early departure of Majors Gary and Patty Elliott who left Johnson City in January for an extended medical leave.
The new commanders bring with them 65 years of experience in Salvation Army leadership which began in 1947 when they were commissioned together at the Salvation Army Officers Training School in Atlanta. Their decades of service has ranged from field commands at small community corps to top administrative roles in divisional and territorial posts from Oregon to Miami.
They officially retired in 1993, James as national Salvation Army commander and Ruth as national president of the army’s Women’s Ministries. Their command here is the sixth interim position they have accepted since their retirement and comes on the heels of their leadership of Chattanooga Corps where they were serving during last spring’s deadly tornados.
While here, Commissioner James Osborne said their work will focus on two important areas, continued work to firm up the Johnson City Corps footing and increasing community outreach services and programs, particularly youth and senior activities.
On the financial front, James Osborne said the Johnson City Corps is now in a position that is allowing it meet its current expenses while it works to reduced significant debt that accumulated over time through the delivery of more services than the corps could afford to provide. He said both an “almost overwhelming” demand for basic housing, shelter and food services that came with the decline of the economy and the desire to help everyone who comes to Salvation Army in need contributed to the debt.
James Osborne said he was very proud of the Elliotts work to improve the corps’ finances during their time in Johnson City and very impressed by the quality of services provided at the corps’s Center of Hope shelter and kitchen. “It’s a quality facility and the work is firsts class,” he said.
Ruth Osborne was the first Salvation Army officer to chair of the executive committee of Veterans Administration Voluntary Services and for many years before and after the couple’s retirement was a popular guest lecturer for groups both in and outside the Salvation Army organization.
She said she has a special love for work with young people and was especially pleased to find “a wonderful youth program here” as well as an active Women’s Auxiliary with which she is anxious to begin work.
Both Osbornes are third generation Salvation Army officers and their daughter and grandson have continued their family’s tradition of Salvation leadership as fourth and fifth generation officers respectively.