God has allowed The Salvation Army to be able to speak into the lives of people across socioeconomic and racial boundaries with a message of hope and love.” Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson.

Photograph of Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson kneeling to be at the same height as a group of five children. They all face the camera and smile.
Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson with children.

Lt. Colonels Lonneal and Patty A. Richardson know how to lead people through a storm. Believing in the power of prayer, they can “speak life” into communities and lead them to God for healing.

Lonneal met the Army while his mother, Maggie, worked for The Salvation Army Memphis (Southside), TN Corp. An officer, Mrs. Brigadier Gertrude Purdue, witnessed the struggles Maggie had getting her family to church. Mrs. Brigadier Purdue brought them to the services at the corps. They were the first Black family to attend.

Patty met the Army when she was about nine years old through the Vacation Bible School offered at the Omaha (South), NE Corps.

She was pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska when she heard the call to officership. She was commissioned in 1979.

Lonneal heard the call at youth councils and was commissioned in 1983. Patty and Lonneal married the same year.

Lt. Colonel Patty Richardson seated at a grand piano performing on stage
Lt. Colonel Patty Richardson performing during the 2018 Commissioning program.

Lt Colonels Lonneal and Patty have received appointments across the Central Territory, but their most significant community impact was in the Midland Division. They developed a five-phase plan in Midtown St. Louis that included a veteran’s residence, 3010 apartments, service and treatment center, and a Red Shield Center; The Ray and Joan Kroc Center in Quincy, Illinois; and the Ferguson Empowerment Center in Metropolitan St. Louis. All these facilities benefit the community by providing social service programs and youth services. The Lt. Colonels Richardson are leaders in community development.

Serving the community in meaningful ways is essential, but Lt. Colonel Lonneal and Patty also serve the people of the community by providing spiritual guidance. Amid the violence of 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, when police shot a young Black man, The Salvation Army activated. With the Richards at the helm, they began to address issues one by one. First, they participated in a call with the White House that “recognized the need to protest but not in a way that destroys the community.” They offered help to more than three-hundred families affected by the violence. They coordinated a shopping spree for seventy children with the Ferguson Church of the Nazarene. Lt. Colonel Lonneal formed committees to arrange community events at Salvation Army camps that encouraged a safe and interactive activity with police. Lastly, and most importantly, the Lt Colonels built a future for Ferguson’s youth; The Ferguson Community Empowerment Center “is built on the site of the QuikTrip that burned down. The Community Empowerment Center Stands as a symbol of hope on the frontlines of local and national restoration for change.” It was a collaboration with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Lt. Colonel Patty Richardson speaking at a microphone. A crowd can be seen in the background.
Lt. Colonel Patty Richardson speaking at George Floyd Prayer Meeting and food distribution. Image courtesy of The Salvation Army Northern Division

Building community and creating safe space is what Lt. Colonel Lonneal and Patty do best.

After twelve years at the Midland Division, in 2017, they received appointments in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lt. Colonel Lonneal as the divisional commander and Lt Colonel Patty as the director of women’s ministries for the Northern Division. God had a plan.

In 2020, another senseless, tragic death of a Black man occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd died on the street at the hands of police officers. The country raged. Recognizing the need for calm and a method to protest, Lt Colonels Richarson arranged a prayer walk. A two-mile walk to acknowledge Mr. Floyd, a former Salvation Army employee, and a peaceful protest to denounce racism. The walk and the event that preceded it impacted the community of Minneapolis by providing a safe place to grieve and be angry. The Lt. Colonels knew what actions to take to calm the storm for a community in pain.

Lt. Colonels Lonneal and Patty recently received new appointments as the divisional commander and the director of women’s ministries for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. They were also appointed as the territorial racial diversity & inclusion secretaries in the Central Territory- the first in the country.

This appointment allows them to sit on the Territorial Cabinet in the Central Territory- the first African-Americans to do so. Lt Colonel Patty said in a Central Connection article, “The creation of this new position comes from a deep understanding by territorial leadership of the necessity for our territory to address long-standing issues that have hindered us from growing to be the church of equity and inclusion that we believe that God has called The Salvation Army to be.” God is a master planner, and Lt. Colonels Richardson are excellent developers.

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