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Jun12MonMaking a difference in the lives of women in Canada and Bermuda, and around the world. June 12, 2017 by Commissioner Susan McMillan
My mother’s passion as a corps officer was the home league, and I grew up seeing how vital this ministry was in the life of the corps, as a way to reach out to the community. The annual tea and sale was always a huge event, and I was happy to serve tables and wash dishes. As a teenager, I was part of the junior miss home league, and it was an important part of my development as a young woman.
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Today, home league remains the cornerstone of women’s ministries, but often goes by different names. We have the freedom to branch out into all kinds of activities and programs, tailored to the needs of a particular community—from cooking classes to ESL clubs, fitness programs to support circles, discussion groups to Babysong. We are limited only by our imaginations!
In The Salvation Army, women’s ministries are built on four pillars: education, service, fellowship and worship. The mission is to:
- bring women into a knowledge of Jesus Christ;
- encourage their full potential in influencing family, friends and community;
- equip them for growth in personal understanding and in life skills;
- address issues that affect women and their families in their world.
Women’s ministries have tremendous potential to reach women and their families with the message of the gospel—one of our territorial strategic priorities. Here are some of the ways that women’s ministries are making a difference across the territory:
In Edmonton, Crossroads Community Church is definitely thinking outside the box. Like the old-time “slum sisters,” members of the women’s ministries programs are reaching out to abused women and women in the sex trade. Over the past six months, they have seen nine women give their hearts to Jesus.
An increasing number of corps are co-ordinating their children’s and women’s programs so mothers can attend. In Summerside, P.E.I., both women’s and men’s programs occur at the same time, and they come together for refreshments at the end.
In Burlington, Ont., an exercise program for women has invited young people to join in after their band practice. As two generations come together, there is rich fellowship and encouragement for a healthy lifestyle.
The corps in Gander, N.L., has adopted “Embrace,” a small-group fellowship and discussion program.
More and more women’s ministries groups are integrating their programs with community and social services programs. At the Centre of Hope in Halifax, a women’s “take-a-break” group is proving successful, and a creative sewing group is providing opportunities for fellowship and creativity.
In Hamilton, Bermuda, the North Street Citadel women’s group serves the Army’s homeless shelter by providing toiletries, bedding, curtains, clothing and suitcases.
A “Dorcas” group in White Rock, B.C., makes slippers for community and family services to distribute at Christmas, and serves refreshments to people waiting for the food bank.
In Sudbury, Ont., a weekly “crafternoon” is held in the family services/thrift store location as an outreach to women in the community.
In many corps, spiritual formation programs for women are feeding a hunger for a deeper knowledge of Scripture.
With the large influx of refugees to Canada, we are seeking ways to offer friendship and support to women who have been through terrible experiences.
As well as reaching out to women in Canada and Bermuda, our women’s ministries programs are making a difference in the lives of women around the world. Groups are coming together in support of Others—Trade for Hope, a social enterprise that creates employment opportunities for women in developing countries. Contact your corps officer to learn more and arrange an event in your area.
Every year, women’s ministries raises funds for an overseas project. In 2014-2015, we provided funding for a program in the South America East Territory that supports women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. I recently received a report that spoke of the remarkable impact it is having.
More than ever before, women’s ministries programs are relevant and helpful, and I pray that many women will discover the secret of abundant life in Christ through them.
Commissioner Susan McMillan is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Follow her at facebook.com/susanmcmillantc and twitter.com/salvationarmytc.