Meet Major Karen Castley
1. What is your current appointment and what do you find most satisfying about it?
I’m currently a corps officer at South Barwon Corps (in Geelong) with my husband Clint. After previously spending a decade in support roles at a divisional office, it is great to be back at the frontline. I am grateful to be leading an intergenerational church and particularly enjoy leading gathered worship, sharing with smaller groups in prayer and Bible study and journeying with individuals to support their growth in faith and ministry.
2. Away from the appointment – if that’s possible! – what do you do to relax or unwind?
My favourite pastime away from ministry is travel, whether that’s down the road for a latte overlooking our stunning beaches or flying across the world to explore new destinations. For me, planning our next holiday is as much fun as the actual holiday. This year I’ve taken up an interest in family history, so I’m planning to go to northern Europe where my ancestors are from. Hopefully, I’ll also tick off a bucket list item and see the Northern Lights!
3. What’s a favourite Christian song and why do you like it?
There are so many songs that have held meaning for me over the years; familiar old hymns as well as modern songs that express my love for God and his redeeming love for me. There are songs that will always be special to me because they relate to times in my life when I made a deeper commitment to the Lord. Yet the Psalmist reminds me to ‘sing to the Lord a new song’ (Psalm 96:1) expressing what God is doing today as we seek his Kingdom and are transformed by his love.
If you tied me down to name a favourite song, I’d say anything written by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I love the richness of their lyrics, which always point to the cross of Christ. One of their recent songs, Rejoice, says ‘Throughout every season I am sure we have every reason to praise the Lord.’ I want that to always be my experience.
4. If you could have a good talk with a biblical character apart from Jesus, who would it be and what would you talk about?
As a mum myself, I’ve often wondered what it was like for Mary to be responsible for raising the Saviour of the world. What did she see in her son as he was growing up that marked him as the Messiah? What was it like to have a celebrity in the family? How did she deal with the inner tension of pride, anxiety and wonder at all her son said and did? What happened to make her turn up that day and beg Jesus to forsake his ministry and return home? How was she able to stand watching as Jesus was unjustly accused and murdered? And I’d love to hear Mary describe how she felt when she learned that her son had risen from the grave.
5. If you were talking to a group of Salvationists and they asked if you recommended officership or not, what would you say?
Officership is harder than it looks but also more fulfilling than you can imagine. I love being an officer. I have a clear call from God to this role and I know it’s the right path for me. A call to officership is not always easy to discern, but one thing is for sure: if you feel called to take on more responsibility for mission, any experience of church will frustrate and disappoint you until you step up to lead in some capacity. If you feel called to leadership, but you’re not sure if it’s to officership or something else, just start leading somewhere that’s connected to your passion. Take the first step and trust God to guide you towards the next. If your call is to officership, it won’t go away.