Jillian Penney attends Vernon Community Church, B.C., where she is the children and youth co-ordinator and team lead for their neighbourhood outreach program. She also serves as a regional co-ordinator for the British Columbia Division’s youth department. This is the first article of a new series, where we will get to know Salvationists from across the territory.
Where are you from, and how has this place shaped you?
Before moving to Vernon, I lived in Torbay, N.L., and Fogo Island, N.L. Newfoundlanders are commonly known for their generous hospitality, and I believe that has been foundational in how I live my life. I love to have people at my house, share a meal with friends and live as if the door of my home and my heart is open. I want to do life with people, and I think that stems from that hometown hospitality found in Newfoundland.
Tell me a little about your spiritual journey.
While I was not raised within The Salvation Army, I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian my whole life. I went through the stages of Sunday school, midweek children’s programs, vacation Bible school, youth group, youth camps and events, and then young adults. As a teen, I became involved as a volunteer with the kids’ ministry team at my church and then I also served on the young adults’ team at my university campus. After I graduated from university, I was invited to apply for the children and youth co-ordinator position here at The Salvation Army in Vernon and the rest is history.
How has your relationship with Christ grown over time?
My relationship with God has grown and matured over time with still lots of room to grow. One way in which I see maturity in my relationship is in the ways I hear from God and act in obedience to what he has to say. This is often expressed as I feel nudged to speak a word of encouragement to someone.
What spiritual disciplines or practices have helped you grow on your spiritual journey?
One practice I make a priority is connecting within a spiritual community. I engage regularly in our corps gatherings, whether it be for worship services, Bible studies or other social events. In addition to this—and what I believe has been key to my personal growth—has been finding a Christian community in my personal life. For many years, this was at a local young adults’ group, but lately has been a small group of friends who meet weekly for a potluck and games. The deep friendships I have built from engaging in Christian community have been my place of conversation, prayer, support and growth.
Who has had a significant influence on your life, and why?
One thing I love about The Salvation Army is that they have always put their faith into action to serve others. I think it models Jesus’ lifestyle well as he was often concerned about those on the outside. This inspires me to do the same and lead our emerging generations to live likewise.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
A slow morning with coffee and a delicious breakfast followed by a spontaneous afternoon adventure.
Have you travelled to any different countries? Where is the most awe-inspiring place you have been?
I have been to the United States, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The water in Grand Turk was incredible! I would love to add some more places to that list. Maybe somewhere in Europe next? Or maybe another tropical destination? Who knows?
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