Salvation Army says farewell to top officer

Published 8:05 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An official farewell will be given for Washington’s Salvation Army Capt. Chris Lyles on June 16 during an extended worship service at the East Seventh Street Salvation Army Chapel in Washington.

Lyles moves on to the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Atlanta, one of 23 such facilities in the U.S. offering an expanded version of Salvation Army community centers, many containing fitness centers, theaters, skating rinks and even water parks. The Kroc Centers are a direct result of a $1.5 billion dollar bequest to The Salvation Army, and the single largest charitable gift ever given to one charity, by Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Lyles said. “It’s a large program, almost like a YMCA on top of a Salvation Army. … It’s a completely different program from the traditional Salvation Army.”

Lyles will act as associate officer of congregational life in the Atlanta facility, while his wife, Elisa, will be attending seminary school at the Salvation Army Evangeline Booth College next door.

Lieutenants Bruce and Goldie Rabon, who are currently with the Salvation Army in Durham, will be the new officers appointed to Washington. Their official first day will be June 23.

“I know that the community will continue to support the Army and our work here as they always have, and I know with that support, Lt.’s Rabon will be able to step right in and continue helping the Washington Command grow and will continue meeting the needs of the community in which we live and serve,” Lyles said.

While the Lyles are accustomed to the frequent moves that come with Salvation Army life — both Chris Lyles’ parents were officers when he was growing up — but Lyles said they will miss Washington. He described it as a warm, loving community.

“Even in times of disaster, you would still see smiling faces and people thanking you for your help,” Lyles said. “We’ll miss Washington. I’ve only been here 3 ½ years, but it’s come to be home. I’ll miss the people more than anything.”

Lyles’ last Washington service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 16.