The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
(Above) The launch event at IHQ included a gallery exhibition, with photos of Salvation Army women’s ministries from around the world, the result of a photo competition last year. Almost 130 photos were submitted, and 36 entries were featured at the exhibition.
In the winning photo, Major Marie Grace Nsengiyaremye, divisional director of women’s ministries, Kamonyi Division, Rwanda and Burundi Command, gives a young child nourishing porridge. (Photo: Jean Baptiste Nkuruziza)
The recent Reimagining Women’s Ministries launch at International Headquarters (IHQ) was more than just a onetime event. It opened the door to reimagine how women’s ministries can effectively share the love of Jesus, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in our communities, as it has been since our earliest days.
Over the past several months, I have listened with growing excitement to the stories of new initiatives in women’s ministries across the territory. The “reimagining” launch calls us to again consider how we can share the love of Jesus with the women and families in our communities. What needs are women in our neighbourhoods facing? How can we walk alongside and share their journeys, and together see our communities transformed—one woman, one family at a time?
God is doing a new thing in and through The Salvation Army. He is calling us into something far bigger than ourselves. I encourage you to embrace the invitation extended by Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, and echoed by myself, to embrace the call to equip our women to share the love of Jesus through their networks of relationships. As we develop creative responses to the needs in our communities, God will do more than we could ever ask or imagine.
I encourage you to join me in focused prayer for the women in our corps and communities as we step into this new chapter in women’s ministries. God is already at work, doing a new thing. He wants us to join him as lives and communities are transformed. “Give us faith, O Lord, we pray, faith for greater things” (SASB 525).
There are new stories emerging every day as women continue to join with God in what he is doing through The Salvation Army. I count it a privilege to be a partner in the gospel with you and look forward to sharing this journey of “reimagined” ministry to women.
Commissioner Tracey Tidd is the territorial president of women’s ministries in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
The Salvation Army’s international women’s ministries department has been undergoing a reimagining to ensure that this crucial ministry remains relevant and contemporary to our 767,000 members worldwide. In support of this effort, a new logo has been created and shared throughout The Salvation Army. The new international women’s ministries logo expresses the light, life and freedom of spirit that is available to all women seeking a spiritual home, a place of service and the opportunity for friendship.
The logo presents women standing on the Bible, which represents the foundation of our Christian faith and the universal message of God’s revelation to all. The logo also includes five birds, which represent the five zones of the international Army—South Asia, Africa, Americas and Caribbean, Europe, and South Pacific and East Asia. The international women’s ministries department hopes that this design will remind women of all cultures and backgrounds that every day is an opportunity to come together as one voice and body, grounded in God’s love.
One of the beauties of women’s ministries is the flexibility it provides for local congregations and communities to carry forward programs and services that are most appropriate for the local context. In the past, home league has been the primary expression of ministry to women, with the four-fold pillars of worship, service, education and fellowship. While home league will continue to play a key role in many locations throughout the world, the reimagining process is a reminder that there are no boundaries on how corps may reach out to women today. Indeed, the only limitations on our ministry to women are those we place on ourselves! Let’s strive to be more intentional and creative than ever in reaching women and their families for Jesus Christ.
My prayer for the Canada and Bermuda Territory, and the Army around the world, is that we would seek the Lord’s guidance and strength in pursuing women’s ministries through fresh and exciting initiatives. The time has come to reimagine women’s ministries as we share with present and future generations of women. I’m In, Are You?
Colonel Shelley Hill is the territorial secretary for women’s ministries in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
"4:30 a.m. wasn’t so bad after all!” shared Major Shirley King, divisional secretary for women’s ministries in the Ontario Central-East Division, on Facebook following the Reimagining Women’s Ministries event, livestreamed from IHQ on February 12, 2020. With the time change, the event, which started at 9:30 a.m. in London, England, occurred in the very early morning across Canada and Bermuda. Major King invited others to join her online for a virtual cup of tea and an opportunity to witness history in the making, despite the early hour.
And others did join her, sharing comments online that the event was “inspired,” “filled with energy” and “refreshing indeed.” As feedback on the event poured in, the excitement among women was evident. Indeed, this is a time to reimagine what women’s ministries can be for The Salvation Army around the world!
In Canada and Bermuda, there is a sense that we have already been reimagining women’s ministries for some time, and we see this in vibrant expressions across the territory. Major Sandra Stokes, divisional commander and divisional director of women’s ministries in Bermuda, shares, “For years we have reimagined what could work … to empower, encourage and equip [women] on our journey toward abundant life in Jesus.”
As we seek to future-proof women’s ministries by reimagining what ministry by women, to women and for women could look like in our ever-changing world, we recognize there are many innovative and creative ways this is already happening. We celebrate these exciting expressions of women’s ministries that are empowering women and transforming communities.
Captain Laura Van Schaick is the women’s ministries program and resource officer.
A Seat at the Table
The Newfoundland and Labrador and Maritime divisions are praying that women leaders will catch the vision and passion of finding community through “the turquoise table,” a model of ministry presented by author Kristin Schell in her book by the same name. Recognizing the chronic loneliness that often affects women and her desire to make honest, comfortable connections with others, Schell put an ordinary picnic table on her front lawn, painted it turquoise, and invited those in her neighbourhood to join her for times of fellowship, Bible study and prayer. It worked, and now she’s inviting others to do the same.
The Turquoise Table was promoted at the Women of Purpose conference in Newfoundland in 2019, and copies of Schell’s book have been gifted to each ministry unit in the two divisions.
Major Jennifer Reid, divisional secretary for women’s ministries in the Newfoundland and Labrador Division, shares, “We can imagine and envision seeing turquoise tables popping up in front of our churches and on front lawns in many of our rural communities as well as larger towns and cities.”
Winter Camp, Warm Hearts
Safe Night Off Winnipeg Streets (S.N.O.W.) started in Winnipeg in 2007 as a one-night event, allowing women, including transgender women, to escape the streets for a night full of pampering, crafts, games and prizes. Now in its 14th year, the event has grown into a threeday camp that welcomed 30 women experiencing exploitation through prostitution this past February.
S.N.O.W. camp, which is organized by the Salvation Army correctional and justice services, is an opportunity for women to pause for some sleep, to eat and to be reminded of their worth and preciousness in the eyes of the Lord as well as the community. This year, each woman was gifted with a prayer shawl, crocheted by Captain June Bobolo, a chaplain with correctional and justice services in Winnipeg. Through conversations around the campfire, and Indigenous drumming and song, they shared gratitude, pain, laughter and tears.
Women at Heritage Park Temple supported S.N.O.W. by gathering items such as pyjamas, beauty products and prizes, making gift baskets for the women, and packing lunches for them to eat on their drive to camp. The “Followers in Training,” a discipleship group for those in Grades 6-9, assisted, making this an intergenerational outreach project. Kaitlin Russell shares, “Donating items and helping pack kits reminded us of the issues facing women in our community regarding abuse, violence and human trafficking. It helps us feel a sense of connection with these women and reminds us that there are women hurting within our reach.”
Ladies’ Night Out
Each month, Major Donna Senter, community and family services officer at York Community Church in Toronto, hosts a ladies’ night out for women who otherwise might not be able to go out for an evening. Many who attend are immigrants and refugees from Nigeria and Uganda who have recently moved into the neighbourhood. York Community Church has also partnered with The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Residence, and a group of women from the shelter come, finding a place where they are loved and accepted.
Major Senter shares that the lives of women are enriched through fellowship with other women. The women who attend are often lonely and ladies’ night out provides an opportunity to gather with other women, have fun and hear a message from God’s Word in a safe and accepting space.
But the connection doesn’t stop at ladies’ night out. Many women have also brought their families to the corps, and York Community Church has welcomed more than 80 newcomers to their worshipping community since August 2019.
Women at Edmonton Temple are supporting Braemar School, a local school that helps pregnant and parenting teens complete their education, by cooking and delivering a nutritious hot lunch once a week to about 40 students. The lunch gives the students an opportunity to eat with their kids and reap the positive benefits of enjoying a meal together.
Staff at the school have identified several positive impacts of The Salvation Army’s lunch program, including an increase in attendance, supporting the students’ budgeting goals and community building.
Along with cooking weekly lunches for these pregnant and parenting teens, the women at Edmonton Temple have gifted them with Christmas presents for their children and provided opportunities for them to attend Moms and Tots camp.
Girls Are Brave
On February 29, The Salvation Army hosted three BRAVE events to celebrate the strength of being a girl, in Victoria, Vancouver and Kamloops, B.C. BRAVE is a one-day catalytic event for girls ages 12-18 and, while it is focused on empowering vulnerable girls, everyone was invited.
While the three events were held simultaneously, each was unique and featured music, dancing, pampering, self-defence classes and more. Captain Lisa Barnes, a corps officer from Seattle, Washington, spoke in person in Victoria. She shared, “The world says that women and girls are expendable, but if one brave act could show a girl that she is wanted and needed and loved, then I choose to be brave!” Captain Barnes’ message was livestreamed to each of the BRAVE events, and girls in all locations joined in the chorus, adding their own declaration that they “choose to be brave!”
Captain Kelly Fifield, corps officer at Kamloops Community Church, shares, “We wanted girls to be reminded that they are loved, that they are cared for, that there are people in our community who want to support them, who want to walk alongside and help them if ever they find themselves in a place that they need that.”
Following the one-day event, some corps plan to launch weekly BRAVE groups and host BRAVE girl meetups to continue building relationships and empowering girls in their communities.
Faith and Fitness
Women in several communities across Canada are being introduced to a program called WholyFit, which focuses on being healthy in body, mind and spirit. It combines Scripture memorization with prayer, movement and Jesus-focused meditation, setting a path for spiritual growth as well as physical health. Major Deborah Coles, corps officer at Victoria Citadel, says WholyFit is a Christian response to the popularity of yoga, and an outreach program in her community. “Yoga is offered everywhere in British Columbia.,” she says. “My vision is that someone would come for the exercises and experience Jesus.”
Captain Ruth Hickman, corps officer at Khi—A Community Church of The Salvation Army in Milton, Ont., is being trained as a WholyFit instructor. “One of the greatest benefits to the WholyFit practice is that it is a safe space for women to face their insecurities in the light of Jesus’ unconditional love,” she says. “In both my observations and my own personal experience, I’ve seen the practice of WholyFit contribute to reduced levels of anxiety and increased passion for the pursuit of spiritual maturity. It’s a beautiful and timely tool for women today.”