A Home League secretary of noble character
I was privileged to participate in the retirement celebration for Home League secretary, Thelma Thornquist. Thelma decided to retire after serving for 28 years as the Home League secretary for Seattle Temple. She has served in The Salvation Army in many different positions and is known both in the corps and in the community. As I prepared my remarks, I listened to the testimonies of a number of corps officers, former and present, who have had the privilege of working with Thelma. I was convinced that the passage of Scripture found in Proverbs 31 applied to this amazing woman and local leader. I want to share some of those thoughts and expand on them to reflect the six mission priorities of this territory. Please allow me a little creative license in my application.
A Home League secretary of noble character, who can find? Her value is beyond all comparison. Her corps officers have full confidence in her because they know she has everything under control. Because the field is her priority, she brings her family, the Home League, the corps and the community good and not harm all the days of her life. She sets her priorities straight and uses good judgment as a godly woman and leader. She knows that ultimately all she does is for the kingdom of God and she will answer to him.
As she seeks to get resources to mission, she uses excellent business skills. Lt. Colonel Bettie Love shared a story about one of the many fundraisers Thelma supervised. Lt. Colonel Love thought the price of the meat for the meatballs was too high and asked Thelma if they could use another source. Thelma expressed her concern, but submitted to Love’s authority as her corps officer. The new source of meat was cheaper and easier, but it was not good. It was sent back and the original source was contacted. The Home League had built a reputation for quality food and the community supported the fundraiser. Thelma could have said: “I told you so” but she never brought up the subject again. Lt. Colonel Love learned to trust and respect Thelma’s judgment.
The Home League secretary of noble character casts a global vision. See Proverbs 31:15-20. She takes care of her family, her home and looks to the needs of the community. “She opens her arms to the poor.” She realizes that her ministry to women extends beyond the groups she leads at her local Salvation Army. She unites the Home League and gives them a vision and passion for helping the poor of the local community and of the world. Each year our Home Leagues and Women’s Ministry Outreach groups raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for World Service, Harvest Festival, divisional projects and territorial project. Right now they are collecting funds for a project in Costa Rica. With the funds raised for this project The Salvation Army will be able to renovate an old storage building and transform it into a center for women. At this center, women will be able to learn new skills and improve their own business skills. They will learn parenting skills. They will receive spiritual and emotional counsel. Now people see a blank wall and a neglected storage space. The funds we raise will build a doorway of hope that leads to transformation.
A Home League secretary of noble character realizes that she cannot do all of the work alone so she looks for leaders and helps to train and develop them. She knows that children are the hope of the future and she makes ministry to youth a priority. The Home League secretary of noble character invests time and interest in young mothers since they need to know how to build godly homes. She knows that the older women of the corps have experience and skills that the younger women need and finds attractive and meaningful ways to connect them. Mother and Daughter teas, mentoring groups, intergenerational activities help women to bond. In pioneer days quilting bees were crucial to the survival of the family. The quilts kept the family warm on cold winter nights. The conversation that took place, as women of all ages worked together, passed on vital information. The quilting bee allowed women to express their fears, hopes and dreams. Younger women listened and learned lessons, which taught them to survive and to thrive. The Home League secretary of noble character understands the need for women to meet together and share information. She will keep the conversations positive and helpful.
Finally a Home League secretary of noble character celebrates the fourfold (holistic ministry) of the Home League, (as well as any effective ministries to women). She understands that the people she interacts with are complicated and have complicated needs. Her well-planned programs include aspects of education, service, fellowship and worship. She knows the mission of the Home League is to help women come into a salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, and to help them grow spiritually. The mission of the Home League is to help women build their homes and families. Then they turn their attention on the needs of the community and the world. The Home League is an international sisterhood. It helps link individuals with something greater than themselves. It expands their vision of the world. If these women were to unite in prayer or on a particular project; they have the potential to change the world.
The corps, the corps officers and the community will rise up and call the Home League Secretary of noble character blessed! “Give her the reward she has earned.” Can we hear it for the Home League? I beg you, do not marginalize the Home League, its members or its potential members. Stop and think about what the Home League and Home League Secretaries of noble character have contributed to The Salvation Army over the years. Isn’t it time to stand up and call them blessed?