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Check the fine print!

The job description for corps officers (that’s ‘church ministers’ for those still learning the lingo) is literally long enough to be a book: it’s called Orders and Regulations for Corps Officers. And every corps officer knows that even at book length, it’s not complete. There are several key sections not included.

For instance, a few weeks ago, I was cleaning someone else’s vomit out of the men’s urinal in the toilet at the hall, and I got to thinking, “I don’t recall seeing this in the job description.”

In the weeks before, I had: unblocked a toilet; climbed into a dumpster to retrieve someone’s clothes; climbed on the roof of our church while it was raining to unblock a downpipe; had someone shake their fist in my face and threaten my life and, worst of all by far, I’d attended to hours and hours of admin reports and emails.

While corps officership also has many highlights, opportunities and privileges – which I’m extremely grateful for – it definitely contains a lot of fine print clauses that appear from time to time.

I recall serving at a corps where the Sunday meeting was at 10am, and at 9.58am there was a knock on my office door just as I was heading in to start the meeting. An elderly corps member said I must attend to a matter urgently.

I said, “Can it wait? We’re about to commence church.” She responded, “No. It’s an emergency. Come with me,” and she walked off.

Muttering something holy and grace-filled under my breath, as I recall, I followed her as she led me into the ladies bathroom. She invited me into a cubicle. I may have raised an eyebrow but dutifully followed her in.

She pointed at the lock on the inside of the door and said: “It’s loose. Someone might come in here during the service, and if the lock comes off, they might be locked in here until someone comes looking for them.”

I gave the lock a wiggle and pointed out that two of the screws holding it in place were loose. It was now 10am. I asked her to follow me. We went back to my office where I found a screwdriver for her, and as I passed it to her, I said: “I’m going to start church. I empower you to go and tighten the screws,” and I walked away.

At two minutes to 10, apparently, no one else in the corps could be trusted to wield a screwdriver, only the corps officer. Luckily for her, I’d been present for the class at training college when we’d covered using a screwdriver. In fact, I got a B+ for it.

So be kind to your corps officer. Sure, they get some privileges and have some status, but they also have to fulfil a vast range of duties that don’t even appear in their job description.

I’d say more on that, but I have to go ... someone just told me we have a pigeon with a broken wing on our front step, and apparently I’m also the vet.

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


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