Mission teams are being assembled to engage in outreach and sports ministry alongside the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. Applicants have just over two months to complete their registration to be part of The Salvation Army’s ministry at the first Olympics to be held in South America. Millions of spectators are expected to travel to Brazil, where The Salvation Army has been at work since 1922.
Major Dan Ford, a Southern officer, is the divisional commander in Rio. He speaks warmly of local Salvationists’ profound desire to serve on mission teams while their city is in the spotlight of the world’s media.
“It’s not so much what they are going to do, but the fact that they are prepared to do something,” Major Ford said. “In particular, we’re aware of estimates that up to 40,000 sex workers will ply their trade in Rio during the event. Salvationists here have a real heart for those trapped in the sex trade, and are campaigning against human trafficking.” An initiative in the suburb of Niterói is already ministering to local women engaged in prostitution, offering non-judgmental counselling, refreshments and care packages.
The Salvation Army is also recruiting volunteer team members from around the world. In partnership with Brazilian para-church movement Braços Abertos (Open Arms), these teams are being brought together by Lt. Colonel David Bowles, Europe Zone sports ministry coordinator. He aims to build on similar initiatives undertaken in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup and in the UK during the London 2012 Games.
Several of The Salvation Army’s corps and centers in Rio are already using sport and other forms of recreation as a way to cement meaningful relationships in the community.
Two delegations of international volunteers will be needed to bolster the local team. Block A runs Aug. 3-13 with Block B following Aug. 13-23. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to visit the international sports ministry website at sar.my/rio2016 to find out more about the financial, practical and spiritual commitments required. The deadline for receiving applications is Feb. 29 2016.
As the extensive cleanup and repair work continued in the North Texas communities hit by the Dec. 26 tornadoes, accessibility became increasingly difficult. To address the problem, The Salvation Army mobilized two catering trucks and two Polaris UTVs facilitating the delivery of meals, snacks and drinks to even the hardest hit areas.
Neighborhood streets in the communities of Garland and Rowlett were busy with the sounds of heavy equipment including city dump trucks and bulldozers removing rubble and debris while roofers worked alongside insurance companies on homes. These operations resulted in extremely congested neighborhoods. The Salvation Army Bryan College Station and DFW catering trucks were able to successfully maneuver through the streets to deliver meals, snacks and drinks to grateful residents, workers and volunteers.
Dwayne and Diane Walters, volunteers from The Salvation Army in Bryan College Station, began their deployment on Saturday, Jan. 2. “We’ve been serving in this same area since Saturday and are getting to know some of the people,” said Diane. “The residents and workers are so happy to see The Salvation Army pulling up, especially when we crack open the sides of the truck and start serving. For lunch today we’re serving Salisbury steak and au gratin potatoes.”
Four mobile feeding units provided drinks, snacks and meals, along with emotional and spiritual care in Garland, Rowlett, the Ovilla/Glenn Heights area, and Sunnyvale.
Meals were served to survivors, first responders and volunteers at the Granger Recreation Center in Garland as well as at a Garland police command post.
Resource centers provided residents with emergency financial assistance along with cleanup kits, hygiene products, blankets, work gloves and other cleaning supplies. Additionally, Salvation Army case workers met with tornado survivors to learn of their specific needs for long-term recovery.
The Salvation Army in Texas reached out to Midwest Food Bank, a long-time disaster partner, in the hope to add emergency food supplies to already established relief operations supporting those who have lost so much as a result of the recent storms.
“Midwest Food Bank has been a great support in recent times of disaster in Texas, including the widespread flooding that hit the state in the spring,” said Alvin Migues, Texas disaster service director for The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army supplies the boxes and Midwest Food Bank provides all of the food, often filling the box with additional items including Bibles.”
The effort to strengthen musical programs in local corps just got a boost. The Guitar Center donated $5.2 million in musical merchandise to The Salvation Army’s four U.S. territories. The merchandise includes mixers, lighting controllers, microphones, guitar effect pedals, guitars, basses, keyboards, drums, speakers and other items.
The entire donation filled 14 40-foot trucks. The allotment to the USA South filled seven 28-foot trucks which were unloaded at the North-South Carolina Division’s disaster warehouse in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Each division will receive 16 pallets of merchandise, and Evangeline Booth College will receive a portion as well.
The divisions picked up their allotments in mid-January. Bernie Dake of the territorial Music Department coordinated the sorting and distribution of the goods, and Daniel Delaney was hired to organize the merchandise for distribution to the divisions.
Photo by Keri Shay for SAConnects Magazine.
Earlier this month, the Territorial Women’s Department assembled a diverse team of women from across the territory to plan the general session meetings for the We Will conference, to be held in Orlando in September.
Meeting in the women’s department board room at THQ on January 11 and 12, many of the women had come into town for the ReEffect conference and remained for a few extra days while others were local to Atlanta. For two days, they collaborated around a communal table, sharing food, prayer and ideas that will shape the first women’s leadership conference this territory has ever seen.
“We are standing on the shoulders of the women officers who have gone before us,” Lt. Heather Dolby said.
That sentiment was echoed by other collaborators who referenced the early days of bold female leaders in The Salvation Army in discussing how this conference should unfold and its ultimate goals.
“Their ceiling should be our floor, we should be pushing forward,” Hillary DeJarnett said.
Each meeting was represented by a long sheet of paper taped to the wall where the planners wrote the names of songs, bible verses and worship notes that they thought would correspond with that day’s theme.This territorial event aims to provide women the opportunity to engage in worship, conversation and fellowship. Empowerment, not entertainment, is its purpose.
Interested delegates will have to apply for admission and, if accepted, pay to attend. The hope is that those who do come will be fully invested and engaged in the sessions and will return to their corps and communities with a sense of empowerment.
“This conference moves us to a place of recovering our legacy,” Diffley said. “Catherine Booth didn’t wait to be empowered, she didn’t wait for permission.”
Many in the room expressed concern for the aftermath of the event, when women return to their communities to build on what they have learned.
“I don’t want to create a new program that becomes a burden,” Captain Maureen Diffley said. “We want to focus on leadership and recognize that women are capable of doing things. We’ll see where it takes us as an army.”
The application submittal period opens in March. For further updates, check back here and visit SA Women’s Ministries on Facebook.
The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory held its first Social and Ethical Issues symposium Jan. 7, 2016, titled ReFocus: Seeing the Possibilities.
Facilitated by Major Susan Ellis, territorial social and ethical issues director, ReFocus was an optional ReEffect pre-conference for delegates interested in fighting human trafficking. Co-facilitators of the conference included Captain Maureen Diffley, program specialist for Women’s Ministries, and Hillary DeJarnett, territorial coordinator against human and sex trafficking. The pre-conference was broken into three separate tracks: corps ministry, social services and demand reduction.
Corps ministry delegates heard speakers such as Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, who also was the keynote speaker. He spoke about a culture that’s being broken down by the normalization of pornography, a major contributor to sex trafficking.
Trueman said that even children have become the exploiters through popular middle and high school practices such as sexting. The danger, he said, is that it creates a mindset of sexual entitlement and is “a revolt against God Himself and His wise laws.” The middle and high school adolescents who are sexting become the college students who engage in a hookup culture – they become the sex buyers, and the trafficking industry gets fueled.
Other speakers in the corps ministry track included Dotti Groover-Skipper, the Florida divisional anti-trafficking coordinator, and Cadet Tricia Smouse, who previously served as the human trafficking program coordinator for The Salvation Army in Central Ohio. Each led sessions about the unique characteristics of working with victims of human trafficking and how to effectively advocate in your corps community as well as outreach to the victims. During lunch, Jason Pope, technical advisor for the Salvation Army World Service Office, spoke on overseas projects that combat trafficking and restore communities.
The social services track led delegates through a ladder of care with topics ranging from taking care of social services staff through self-care, a continuum of care for service providers, how to empower survivors through trauma-informed care and how to effectively run programs using federal funding and diversifying program funding. Speakers included Julie Shematz, social services director in Tampa, Florida; Priscilla Santos, program coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Services program in Orange County, California; the team from Haven ATL led by Melba Robinson, director, and Dorsey Jones, case manager, and Keisha Head, a survivor and nationally recognized speaker on human trafficking.
Delegates who chose the demand reduction track learned about how to respond to the demand for commercial sexual exploitation from within the church, from a community approach and through law enforcement advocacy. Speakers included Patrick Trueman; Corporal Alan Wilkett, Pasco County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office; Pilar Dunning, program manager for the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT program in Chicago, Illinois; and Anne Kerr, TrueNorth Freedom Project founder and CEO, who gave practical resources and tips for helping the church engage in the fight to end demand for sex trafficking.