Dear Salvation Army, Where Are We Going?

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo

This is more of a collective pondering today. We need your comments, thoughts and opinions in order to carefully and thoughtful answer the above question: Where Are We Going?

What is our vision?

What should our vision be?

How do we make that vision a reality?

What are some of the obstacles in our way of fully realizing that reality?

Who will it take (e.g. soldiers, officers, volunteers, donors)?

How important is accountability in such a large movement/organization?

How can we become more accountable to Christ within this Army? Where does Holiness belong in such a conversation?

I have disclosed numerous questions to ponder today…are you willing to take a chance at answering any or all of these questions? The larger scope question: Where Are We Going? In other words, if you were to envision where the Army SHOULD BE in 20 years, what would it look like? What would you want to see different, the same, the growth?

-If we have no plan or vision, then we will flounder and waver.

We look forward to your responses!

Something more for the Army to ponder today!

Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army and are that of the writer of this blog, reader discretion is advised.*

Dear Salvationist, 3 Things Your CO Doesn’t Tell You

Every corps has its challenges.
Each community that we, Corps Officers have the pleasure of serving in is also uniquely different.  Sometimes the life of an Officer can be a lonely place, while other times COs are surrounded by love and support…it certainly comes in seasons.

today, my Dear Salvationists, I would like to share with you
3 Things Your Corps Officer Doesn’t Tell You (But maybe should).
Officers, correct me if I’m wrong…I’m not opening a can of worms I haven’t already confronted within my own life, and perhaps this is all relative to our own uniquenesses (I just made up a word).

here goes…

struggle1) Sometimes CO’s struggle spiritually too…
I hope this doesn’t come as a complete shock to any of you.  Sarcasm aside, the truth is, just because your corps officer is a pastor/preacher/social worker/counselor/janitor/chef…and more, doesn’t mean that they have perfected holiness by any means.  We. Still. Struggle.  We may not always have the answers to all of your spiritual questions, but we will sure try to find out those answer for you and with you.  There are days when we feel beat up, kicked around and we just want to pack it in.  There are days when our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears and, yes we also experience those dry and thirsty places.  Your Corps Officer is, and will never be perfect in your eyes or everyone’s eyes for that matter.  We are not perfect, we are still human and we are also prone to making mistakes.  These spiritual struggles aren’t crisis points, no, instead, this is life – and we live it just like you do, and anyone who says otherwise isn’t telling you the truth.

budget2) Many Times We Are Stressed Out About Finances
Running a corps and connecting in the community takes a lot of effort and work.
There are times when your CO might not admit it, but they could be deeply stressed about finances – especially during major fund raising events like Christmas!   The reality is, if the money isn’t there employees and services could get cut, and this truly hurts us.  We pray a lot about these things.  Yes, we understand that money doesn’t solve everything and we must chase after God not money, but we also recognize the reality of serving suffering humanity.  It takes resources.  It takes finances.  It takes gifted, talented staff members to aide in the many things that we do.  We worry about it – and some of us sometimes worry more than we really should.  We recognize that, unlike Churches, we cannot simply operate on the tithes of our corps members.  We must beat the drum and rally the community to come and help us…and we have our doubts sometimes too.  We need your encouragement, prayers, love and support too.

3) Friendships Are Hard To Maintain, We Might Be Lonely. friends
This isn’t a pity party by any means, and I simply want you to know that your CO(s) is human too.  They crave friendships, laughter, tangible fellowship, and leisure.   Depending on the appointment, these moments can be few and far between.  It is hard to minister in a corps and be friends too.  That shepherd, sheep element is hard to balance.  As a younger officer, (I’m not that old yet) we were sent to our first appointment 5 hours from DHQ…we craved friendship all the time and we had to find it in our community.  It is not always easy to have close friends when your appointments could be the span of a year or three.  We as officers can become aloof at times because if we invest all of us into friendships we know it will be even harder when we leave.  I don’t mean to say that we don’t still invest all of us regardless, but if you feel as if you corps officer is a little stand-offish, give them time, be patient with them and make attempts to invite, befriend and care for them anyway.

These are only three things that your CO doesn’t tell you, but perhaps should.
Remember that trust is a two-way street, and that confidence and vulnerability takes time.

So how about you…what are your thoughts, comments and impressions on this topic?
Share and join the conversation!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, The Death Of The Uniform Skirt.

February 10th, 2017                                                                                                          Edition #118

It finally happened.
The Salvation Army’s women’s uniform has officially changed.
The days of the skirt with those awkward “gasping for air” tight pantyhose is finally over.
The skirt has finally gone the way of the bonnet and the high collar uniform.
Some say that it is about time, while others claim this is the beginning of the end for our Army.  Either way, the change in uniform policy has come, and time will tell how it will effect our army.

One officer brazenly indicated that with the expiration of the uniform skirt the equality within the sexes could finally be realized.

Is this true?
Could we be seeing all additional walls between “official” roles torn down all because of the death of the skirt?
Could it have been that simple?
Some would contend that officer leadership roles had already begun changing well before this uniform adjustment, but I recently sat down with a few female officers to discuss just how this new policy change will effect all gender roles within the Army.

Photo Mar 30, 11 42 35 AM

The Interview:

So, tell me about this new uniform policy?
Well, I don’t know about everyone here, but I am absolutely thrilled to see the army finally taking this modern step forward!  I can’t tell you how good it feels to not be required to wear those constricting pantyhose at official events and other occasions.  I mean numerous changes have occurred within the men’s uniform shirts over the years but THIS change is just remarkable!

Looking back, what sort of rationale did you hear of in regards to why the Skirt/Panyhose and High Heels were required for “Full Uniform”?  
Oh, there were a lot of interesting reasons that I have heard.  Some of the craziest were – 
-‘The tunic does not look good without the skirt.’
-‘If women no longer wore skirts they wouldn’t know how to sit ladylike anymore.’…
…”One person even told me: ‘I don’t have a problem with it, so why should you?
“Another one I have personally heard was, ‘You can wear pants in the office, so it’s not like you NEVER get to wear them.’
…Someone told me once, ‘Skirts are more formal than pants…’ To which I said, “then why don’t men need to wear them too, for the sake of formality?”
-‘Skirts are feminine, pants are not.’  They told us that we needed heels so that we stood ‘more erect’ and had a better frame.”  (In response to this comment another woman added, “Are men required to wear something that requires them to stand ‘more erect’ and have a better frame?”)

Why is this new change in uniform so important?  Are there any opportunities now that you have that you didn’t while in the skirt?

I always hated that it impaired my ability to play drums on Sundays.  It was frustrating having a talent and not being used because I was uncomfortable playing a drum set with my legs wide open in a skirt.

“I already see a difference in my own life, I used to get swollen feet/legs at the end of the day and now I don’t.  I was always concerned about my back and my health when wearing heels because of the skirt.  Now that I don’t wear the heels anymore, my back pain and worry for my health is also gone!”  

“Prison ministry is certainly different now, I no longer have to wear the skirt and personally I feel less like an object while in this specific ministry!” 

“I don’t get judged anymore by other women officers by the length of my skirt…that used to always drive me crazy when someone would tell me my skirt was too long or too short…that kind of judgment is gone now!” 

“I used to have to do nursery work from time to time during the holiness meeting and inevitably I would be holding a child and their Velcro strapped shoes would catch on my nylons…I always ran them…now I don’t have that problem…and that certainly saves me some money on more nylons every week!” 

“I have seen a difference in some of our women soldiers in our corps.  Some were never keen on wearing the skirt when in full uniform, but since this change, they are back in full uniform on Sundays!”  

“I used to fall a lot while in high heels.  I even twisted my ankle a time or two, once rather severely.  Now I wear flats with my uniform pants and I can’t tell you how good that feels, and I’m sprain free!”

So I’m hearing you say there are a lot of opportunities now, do you think this effects the way others see women performing official “Officer” roles?

“Absolutely!  I think the uniform skirt put certain limits on us at times.  I believe there is an element of respect that comes with wearing pants with full uniform that we didn’t have before.  This is all new, but I have already seen the positive effects this change has had on my ministry and my leadership as an officer.”

What would you say to someone who wants to bring back the skirt or is clinging to this now obsolete uniform?

“I think the army made the right choice in this new policy, but I think if someone still wants to wear the skirt, no one should stop them from doing so as long as they don’t look down their noses at the rest of us wearing our uniform pants in full uniform.”  

“I always felt a little bit judged by people, most of the time it was other women in uniform, who had this kind of ‘standard’ that they seemingly forced on all the other women around them while wearing their skirt and pantyhose… I don’t think that is going to change much now it will just mean they are judging us according to how we wear this new full uniform.  But I would say that if you want to cling to the old uniform great, just don’t judge us by your standards…isn’t that kind of what the pharisees used to do?”

Well, there you have it.
Those that I talked with about this new uniform policy change seem to really like it.
The impression that I got from these women was that this is a good thing, and that some gender barriers are now down (assumed or recognized) within the identity of the Army as a whole.
Will this be the end of the army?  I don’t think so.  The Salvation Army has changed often within its 152 years, and I believe that it will certainly adapt as we move forward in the battle of saving souls and serving suffering humanity…and who knows, perhaps we will look back at this moment in our history and say “that was a minor event in this mighty army for Christ, or perhaps it will be said that this was a mighty turning point in gender equality and leadership roles.  Who knows, perhaps time will tell.

***A satirical article from a non-existent news source in the future…who knows…it could happen!***

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