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Nov1ThuIntroducing the new chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries. November 1, 2018 by Kristin Ostensen
This month, the Canada and Bermuda Territory welcomes Colonels Edward (“Dusty”) and Shelley Hill as chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries respectively. (Watch the official welcome service by livestream on Sunday, November 4, at 11 a.m. EST, at livestream.com/saCANbroadcast/WelcomeTheHills.)
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Geoff Moulton, editor-in-chief, interviewed the Hills to find out what they are passionate about, what life is like on the other side of the Army world and what they most look forward to in their new appointments.
First, I have to ask … where did you get the nickname “Dusty”?
EH: The story goes that when I was a small child and came in from playing outside, I was covered in dirt and mud. “Dusty” was the nickname my parents started to call me, because I was just that kind of child. My brother and my sisters all had nicknames, too, but they shed those. I carried it through my life, and I continue to be known primarily as Dusty, at least in the U.S.A. Western Territory.
Most recently, you were appointed as chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries for the Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory. What is it like serving in a different culture?
EH: That was a fascinating territory in which to serve, because there are such wide differences economically, politically and culturally, coupled with poorer countries. It’s the first experience we’ve had serving in a culture where Christianity is not the dominant religion. In Singapore, there’s a wide distribution of religion, but Malaysia is 90 per cent Muslim, and Thailand and Myanmar are 90 per cent Buddhist. And yet, the Army is still functioning well in those countries. It’s exciting to see Army ministry flourish in spite of the difficult economic and cultural circumstances.
Canadian officers Captains Leonard Heng and Peck Ee Wong as well as Major Mark Hall are serving in that territory. Did you cross paths with them?
EH: Mark is actually the corps officer at the corps where we soldiered. And Peck Ee
and Leonard are the corps officers of the Bishan Chinese Corps, which meets at territorial headquarters. We’ve gotten to know all three of them, and if they’re typical of Canadian officers, the Canada and Bermuda Territory is in fine shape. They’re all hard-working and dedicated, and I’m going to miss them.
What lessons have you learned in your travels around the Army world?
EH: When you’re working in cultures that are different, you need to be sensitive to differences and try to listen and learn as much as you can before you project your own thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, when we come from a developed country like the United States or Canada, we feel like we’ve got it all figured out. But when we listen, we often realize that there are many different ways to do things that may be more effective.
What are the priorities for you as you take up your new appointments?
EH: I want to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can, about what’s going on, so I can make a contribution. I want to be a good example in my leadership and as a soldier in my corps. We look forward to working with the territorial commander, Commissioner Susan McMillan, a very capable leader, and meeting the rest of the headquarters team.
SH: One of the priorities in my role as the territorial secretary for women’s ministries is to get to know women in the territory. I want to learn and experience what they’re doing in ministry as they love and serve the women in their corps and community.
Early in your officership, you were corps officers at Pasadena Tabernacle in California. Can you talk about your time there and the importance of front-line ministry in the Army?
EH: Serving at Pasadena Tabernacle was transformational for us. We were soldiers there for 10 years before we became the corps officers. It’s the kind of corps that sets a good example: it’s soldier-led; there is a good blend between traditional and contemporary ministries; it has strengthened the social services connections with its local adult rehabilitation centre (ARC). My hope for every corps is that they would figure out how to best meet the holistic needs of the entire community. The Army must be constantly looking for ways to reach out and open doors to more and more people, and create entry points into the Army.
Your parents have been strongly involved in The Salvation Army. What do you admire most about them?
SH: Both my parents were stalwart Salvationists. I remember them doing devotions and praying every morning at the dining room table. My mother was a prayer warrior and she was very dedicated at the corps, always involved in leadership through corps cadets and Sunday school. She worked at the ARC and the veteran’s hospital well into retirement. My father was corps sergeant-major at my home corps for more than 35 years. So they set a good example of faithful service.
EH: My parents are retired officers after 45 years of active service. They are in their late 80s, but still involved in corps and the ARC ministry in Portland, Oregon. They always set a good example, were affirming of others and enjoyed being officers. We appreciate all that they’ve done to help shape us into the people that we are.
You have three adult children of your own.
SH: Our oldest, Stephanie, is 29, a preschool teacher who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our middle child, Samantha, is 22, and in her last year at university, majoring in human services. Our youngest, Samuel, is 20, and majoring in English. Of course, they are excited about us moving back to North America.
Dusty, you were a founding member of the U.S.A. Western Staff Band and executive officer of the U.S.A. Western Staff Songsters. What does music ministry mean to you and for the Army?
EH: It is an important dimension of our worship experience in the Army corporately, and has been for me personally as well. It was those connection points that kept me involved in the Army at a time when it would have been easy for me to stray. To me, music ministry is a great way to reach out and involve new people in our corps.
I also think it’s one of the great ways to get different generations involved. I remember when my kids were in the band as teenagers and sitting next to a man in his late 80s who was a great example to them. They thought that was pretty terrific. You don’t see that in many ministry scenarios, but you do see it in Salvation Army music-making. We could use more emphasis on music, if it’s done in the right way.
Shelley, you graduated from the Arrow Leadership Program held in Vancouver two years ago. What did that experience teach you?
SH: It changed my life and made me a better leader. It stretched me to step out in faith and do some things that I had not done before. I love the motto of the Arrow Program: “To be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, to lead others to Jesus.” I keep in contact with many of my colleagues from the program, and we’ve been able to compare notes and find strength in sharing the journey.
Describe a moment in ministry where you thought to yourself, “This is what The Salvation Army is all about.”
EH: This year, I went to Northern Myanmar, an isolated region of that country, to visit a Salvation Army clinic. Many of the rivers become swollen in the rainy season, cutting the area off from the main city a few miles away. That clinic is the only medical service that’s available for villages in that area. As we were sitting in her one-room medical clinic, I asked the nurse, “Have you ever delivered a baby?” And she said, matter-of-factly, “I’ve delivered 184 babies since 2003.” I was dumbfounded at the impact that she’s had on so many lives by providing critical medical service in such difficult circumstances.
SH: I think of the feeding program ministries when we were at Pasadena, going to the parks on Saturday morning and giving the homeless a hot breakfast. Or the streets of Honolulu with Revolution Hawaii, our outreach program, serving sandwiches and bottled water, and sharing the love of Christ in a practical way. It’s the emphasis on “soup, soap and salvation” that William and Catherine Booth pioneered. I love being the hands and feet of Jesus to others; it’s something that the Army does well.
Ministry can be busy, but what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
EH: When I’m home, I might take a walk or a run. I also like to fiddle around on musical instruments, though I’m not proficient on any of them. Lastly, I like to read and keep up on current events.
SH: I love to walk every morning, and get out and explore. I also love museums, art galleries and old movies that make me cry [laughs].
Is there a Scripture verse that God is using to speak to your hearts in these days?
SH: For me, it’s Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That has spoken to me recently, and reminds me that we need to be God’s humble servants.
EH: I would share 2 Corinthians 12:9: “ … but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ” I’m a person who has limitations, and a lot of things that I continually need God’s help in working through, but God’s promise is that his grace is sufficient. Even when we are imperfect and fall short, he can still use us for his honour and glory.
- Commissioned as Salvation Army officers in June 1993.
- First appointed as corps officers at the Leeward Corps, Oahu, Hawaii.
- Later served as divisional youth leaders for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division.
- In 1998, went to the College for Officer Training where they served in various appointments, including Edward as the dean for the School of Continuing Education and Shelley as the assistant director for special services.
- In 2002, appointed as corps officers at Pasadena Tabernacle Corps.
- Served as divisional leaders in 2008 in the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands, including the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and Saipan.
- Appointed to the U.S.A. Western Territory’s headquarters in July 2012, where Shelley served as the women’s ministry and resource secretary and the Fellowship of the Silver Star secretary and Edward as the secretary for program.
- In 2016, Edward became the chief secretary and Shelley the territorial secretary for women’s ministries for the Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory.
- Edward and Shelley have associate of arts degrees in ministry from The Salvation Army School for Officer Training in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
- Edward earned a master of divinity degree from Northwest Nazarene University, a master of arts degree in Christian education from Azusa Pacific University, and a bachelor of arts degree in history from California State University at Fullerton.