‘Gather’ aims to provide women in mission and ministry with resource
By: Brad Rowland
More than a decade ago, The Salvation Army implemented “Catch the Joy” as something of a manual for ministry to women. Over time, it became clear to those monitoring the initiative that a fresh, modern approach was needed, and, beginning in January 2020, that vision comes to fruition with “Gather.”
“Gather” is described as a guide for women in mission and ministry. While it is not a traditional manual in some respects, it provides a full-fledged toolkit emphasizing freedom in ministry.
“We want to engage, encourage, equip and inspire women to be all that God created them to be,” said Major Susie Erickson, assistant territorial secretary for women’s ministries. “That’s our purpose in ministering to women. With this piece, we also want to encourage women to bring other women around the table. We want them to think beyond programming as well. We’re such great programmers, but we want women to start thinking about real season of life needs. We need to join with others in the community, getting outside, and ministering to specific needs rather than simply establishing programs.”
Aside from the primary requirement of mandating 44 mission-focused meetings per year as a tool for accountability and structure, the guidelines are exceedingly flexible and represent more of a re-imagining of the comprehensive work previously in place. One significant shift is the distinction between women’s ministries and what the resource refers to as ministry to women, with an aim toward being more culturally relevant and mission focused.
“Part of what ‘Gather’ does is that it gives permission for us to think differently about how we minister to women,” Major Erickson said. “We need to think beyond just a program, instead focusing on the holistic person. It is important that we reach beyond the walls of our corps building and into the community to see how we can minister to the needs of women.”
“’Gather’ is not a program. It’s more of an ethos or a call. It is inherently a call to mission, to gather women and to go where they are and bring them in.”
The guide is now available for distribution. “Gather” supplies resources for the development of ministry, including practical ideas on what women may encounter and what their challenges may be. In addition, “Gather” seeks to get away from the program-minded nature of some initiatives, instead focusing on mission.