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And you are …?

I’m aware that, internationally, there are still some Booths involved in The Salvation Army and in officership; and not just any Booths but living descendants of our founders, William and Catherine Booth.

It must be hard, at times, to carry that surname in the Army. I worry that any Booths will be held to some sort of higher Christian standards than the rest of us – “Well, I wouldn’t have expected that of a Booth!”

Of course, there are many other large families in The Salvation Army, where generations of Salvationists of one clan have become prominent in the Army. I attended one corps where there were four elderly brothers, flowing down to many children and grandchildren – it took me ages to work out who was related to whom and how!

Then, even worse, I discovered that through a distant relative and by marriage, I was related to the same family! As has been said many times, it’s an incestuous Army. We grow up, attend youth groups and divisional events, date other Salvationists, marry, and, before you know it, half the Army is related!

Some years ago now, Tracey and I were asked to lead a corps anniversary at a large corps in Melbourne. After the Sunday morning meeting, an elderly male Salvationist approached us and thanked us for our leadership. He then looked at me and said, “I’ve been trying to place you; are you Edgar and Elva’s boy?”

I replied that I was one of them, along with my brother, and he commented that I came from “good Army stock”. I said, “Well, yes, I guess I have red, blue and yellow blood. I’m a fifth-generation Salvo with parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins who are or have been officers. The Army’s all I’ve ever known.”

Then, smiling, he turned to Tracey and said, “And who were your parents?” She replied that they were Tony and Gloria Anderson from Wodonga, but they didn’t attend the Army, and she was the first family member to be a Salvo.

At this, the elderly chap simply muttered, “Oh”, and turned around and walked away. He loved me, but he wasn’t interested in Tracey at all! We looked at each other and laughed; his dismissal of her because she wasn’t ‘Army’ enough for him was plain to see.

My son and daughter-in-law have their first child due in a few months. While it’s been lovely to see the renewed popularity of biblical names in recent years (Joshua, Josiah, Hannah, Leah, Caleb, Chloe, Jesse etc.) I wonder if I should suggest something to them to ensure the child isn’t treated as Tracey was.

Hence, welcome to the world William Bramwell Ballington Cadman Brengle Davies, or Catherine Evangeline Emma Kate Eva Davies!

– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos


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