Two for the Higher Road

New soldiers and Ambassadors for Holiness Bill and Diane Ury talk with Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee about how they help others encounter the living God.

War Cry: How did you two meet?

Diane Ury: When I was at Asbury College in the early eighties, my roommate pointed out to me this wonderful young man who was at the seminary and she said, “That’s Bill Ury.” And I kind of tucked that away in my heart. Two years later his sisters—good friends of mine—decided that I should meet their brother. They introduced us. I never hinted at any interest.

Dr. William and Diane Ury.

Bill Ury: I’d had some rough relationships in college and so I’d gone through a long period of being a monk.

My sisters thought something was wrong with me. They worked out this meeting on Easter weekend in the cafeteria. I was in seminary and Diane was in college. Getting together was a no-no. You didn’t cross the street to date college girls. But I went over and of course fell in love with her immediately and my monkness went away very quickly. I went on to graduate school for a year and Di when to seminary for a year. We just couldn’t take being apart.

Diane: He was in New Jersey and I was at Asbury Seminary (in Kentucky) and we said, “This stinks.” We got married one year later.

WC: How did you meet The Salvation Army?

Bill: When I was asked for the first time to speak at Indian Springs Camp Meeting in Fort Valley, Georgia.

They had services at three o’clock in the afternoon in July or August. A guy in a buttoned up blue tunic was sitting by himself in the Georgia sun. Afterwards he came up to me and I thought, “Who is this guy?” And he said, “Would it be okay if I invited you to our Bible conference.” I said, “Sure, I’d love to do that.” I had no idea what he was talking about. That guy was Commissioner Fred Ruth.

Within a few months I had a letter of invitation and the Lord has blessed my life from that encounter until today. The invitation was to speak at the Lake Junaluska Bible Conference in the Southern Territory. Other invitations followed, to officer councils and other kinds of things. Over the years it kept going and growing into an amazing work of God’s grace in my family’s life and mine.

WC: Was there a moment like that when you came home and said, “I met these people”?

Bill: My wife is very perceptive. Diane said, “Bill, there’s something different about you when you come home from these councils. You’re alive. You just have a vibrancy in you that’s not there other ways.” And the jokes began. “We’re going to give you the uniform. We need to see you in a tunic.” She’d say, “You need to think about this. At first, I thought she was joking.

Diane: I wasn’t joking. I said, “This is something we really need to think about.” Now, being together in ministry, teaching and preaching to people that you can be everything that Jesus ever dreamed you would be, that He can do that in your life—I just don’t know if there is a higher thing. For me, it’s a dream come true.

WC: Any connections to the Army in your past?

Diane: I transferred to Asbury College as a sophomore. I wasn’t even a Christian yet, but I was put in the dorm and about 80 percent of the girls in my hall were Sallies. That was my first introduction to The Salvation Army. And I met some godly women my own age who knew Jesus and who loved me. I’m still in touch with a lot of them.

Bill: My first real contact with the Army was with my roommate in college. About a year in he began to date Sue Baxendale. I didn’t know at that time when you dated a 

Salvation Army woman you become a Salvationist quickly. With that came his sanctification. I remember distinctly the night he came in after a long walk on the golf course. I could tell when he came in the room that something was radically different in his life. Then came the quotes by Brengle and Booth on 3x5 cards on the wall of our dorm room.

He strategically placed a quote by (Army Founder) William Booth right in my eyesight as I got out of bed every morning. It said, “O Christ, of pure and perfect love/Look on this sin-stained heart of mine!/I thirst Thy cleansing grace to prove,/I want my life to be like Thine./O see me at Thy footstool bow,/And come and sanctify me now!” (The Song Book of The Salvation Army #728, v. 1). I had no idea what that meant, but for the next two years but I watched his yieldedness, his openness, his heart. That’s where I really began to encounter the mission of the Army. In class I read Samuel Logan Brengle’s Portrait of a Prophet. I thought, “Man, who are these people?”

WC: What led to you joining the Army?

Bill: I was taking part in an officers council meeting in Florida. Commissioner Jeffrey was territorial commander. We were in the restaurant. I was next to him. I was nervous, overwhelmed by that kind of authority. He knew we were going to the pastorate and he leaned over he said, “Bill, go and get this pastoral thing out of your system in a year and give me a call.” I was kind of offended by that. “What do you mean this pastoral thing? You know, the Lord’s called us to this.” We got super spiritual.

I never forgot that conversation. He’s a leader. He sees things and he was saying, “We need something that you have in the Army. You connect with the Army in ways that we need. Would you?” Last year Di and I began to pray about a change. We sensed the Lord leading us in new ways and began to say, “Lord, what would that be?” I said “Di, maybe I should text or email Dave Jeffrey.” She said, “Yes, I think you should.” I emailed him and within 10 minutes he emailed back. He said, “We need to talk. We need to meet.” And so we met in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Di and I, we’re overwhelmed. The chance for us to minister together in this way is a huge draw for us. To be in the saddle together, in a Wesleyan-Arminian organization that affirms our gifts together as a couple is beautiful.

WC: Diane, what’s this doing to you?

Diane: I’m just extremely humbled and honored. I don’t feel worthy to wear this uniform. Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe told me, “No, this is like a sacrament. This is all about Jesus. It’s not about you.”

“Okay, I can wear it if it’s all about Him,” I said.

I am just thrilled. There’s nothing in the world that I love more than to teach and preach about how to give one’s whole self to the Lord and receive all that He has for us. That’s my passion. And to be asked to do that in your job description with your husband, I just can’t believe it.

WC: Describe what you will be doing.

Bill: We have the job of going around the country and reminding a group of Christians what their roots are, how we can describe or live that kind of life, the roots of biblically loving God with all of our hearts, loving our neighbors, ourselves, that perfect love, that whole love, the foundation of the Army’s ministry.

Diane: We have been in pastoral ministry and have experienced the pain and disappointment, the feelings of failure, the fear. Now we are able to come into contact and offer words of encouragement that would help people who are serving with the Army to feel encouraged and more connected to Jesus and restored. I love theology. Many of my highest moments of worship have been in a classroom setting where someone is teaching me about the depths of our beliefs. I’m hoping that we can present theology and doctrine in ways where it feeds people’s hearts and they meet and encounter the living God.

WC: What is most on your heart right now?

Bill: We want to bring what is valuable and meaningful, something that lasts. My heart is concerned about how we join with other arms of the Army’s ministry to encourage ongoing biblical and theological reflection. How can we come along and say encouragingly, “This is a way to deepen your preaching, prayer life. Walk with Jesus while you’re responding to needs that come by the hour of every day!”

Diane: I want to learn how to serve the people in the Spirit of Jesus wherever we go, to be an encouragement.

WC: Is there a particular lesson from the Lord that stands out?

Diane: I learned of holiness and the idea of sanctification when I was a young adult. It took a long time for me to learn that holiness is not about my really nice, good behavior, but about the very presence of Jesus Himself in my life, His nearness, His intimacy. His actual presence is what holiness is, and good behavior comes as a result.

Bill: The first thing that comes to mind is that pastoral ministry is not primarily preaching or teaching. I learned that pastoral ministry means offering the heart of Jesus in a context where people may not even recognize that’s what’s happening. Most of the time, they don’t. People aren’t always grateful, don’t recognize, don’t understand; but in the Spirit, you keep on offering love, acceptance and forgiveness. I would love to talk with Salvation Army officers about how they experience their corps, their context, and ask, “How can we promote that kind of reality in everyday ministry?” 

WC: Is there anything either of you would like to add?

Bill: I spent most of my adult life studying the nature of God. I am so grateful that the Lord’s given us a chance to focus on the central core, the essence of God’s own life, holiness and love. I was reading last week about ambassadorship, and happened to read in Brengle’s book what it meant to be an ambassador. I was grateful for him to say that ambassadors have no authority of their own. They have nothing about themselves to talk about. Ambassadors only point to the one who has sent them. That’s all we want to do, is point to Him. The title “Ambassadors for Holiness” frightens us a bit but the idea of giving our life to doing that is a gift—pointing to the One Who is holy. We know there are lots of things we’re going to learn, but what an amazing gift to offer to people. The Army’s blessed me since 1980, and the blessing just keeps getting better. This is probably heretical, but there’s a third blessing and Diane and I are experiencing it right now: The blessing of becoming a part of the Army.

In a sacred act of dedication at the Holiness Table during their enrollment as soldiers, national leaders Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffrey pray with Bill and Diane Ury.

National Ambassadors for Holiness

Dr. William and Diane Ury, renowned exponents of Wesleyan Holiness who were enrolled As Soldiers in the Raleigh, NC Corps this spring, have been named by Commissioner David Jeffrey, USA National Commander, as National Ambassadors for Holiness (NAH), effective as of July. Assigned to National Headquarters, they serve as teachers, writers, and communicators of the evangelistic mission of the Army, engaging Salvationists in seeking the life of holiness, proclaiming the doctrine of holiness, and emphasizing the practice of holy living as a continuing characteristic of Salvationism. They will serve as guest speakers/teachers at Salvation Army events in all four USA territories, including officer councils, retreats, Bible conferences, Family Camps and divisional and territorial events. They will also serve as adjunct professors at any of the territorial Colleges for Officer Training, as requested, and mentor future Salvation Army leaders.

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