A ‘secret weapon’ in every corps
Founded 100 years ago by Florence (Mrs. General Bramwell) Booth.
by Sue Schumann Warner –
Lillie Baltazar and her family; their lives were changed through Home League ministry.
“It’s the secret weapon of Women’s Ministries in every corps,” said Commissioner Pat Swyers of The Salvation Army’s Home League program. “Home League is Women’s Ministries!”
The Home League program was created in January 1907—the concept of Florence Booth (Mrs. General Bramwell Booth)—with a goal of strengthening the home and family. That goal has never changed. Its first meeting was held at Cambridge Heath (London), England, with Mrs. Colonel Higgins (who later became Mrs. General Edward Higgins) acting as general secretary. The next month, over 100 women attended the opening of a Home League at Tottenham Citadel.
“The basis for the Home League hasn’t changed—its four-fold mission remains,” noted Swyers, who explains that the elements of worship, education, service, and fellowship keep the League and its members on a steady course. Its emphasis continues to be: bringing women into a knowledge of Jesus Christ; encouraging their full potential in influencing family, friends, and communities; equipping them for growth in personal understanding and life skills; and addressing issues which affect women and their families in the world.
A place to connect
One of the largest women’s organizations in the world—with over half a million members worldwide—the Home League operates under the umbrella of The Salvation Army’s Women’s Ministries.
“These days, we have women living far away from their families—the Home League gives them fellowship and support,” Swyers commented. “I have a great passion for it!” She noted that even though the world has changed, women still need to connect; they need a safe place to share and be nurtured.”
Home League provides fellowship and more: it’s a good place to develop local leadership and often becomes “the backbone of the corps.” And its flexibility enables corps to tailor programs, such as the Western Territory’s “Win One Woman” (WOW) initiative, to meet territorial needs.
It also is the “door” through which women and their families come to know Jesus Christ. Lillie Baltazar was one.
Swyers recalls the terrible ordeal that brought Lillie to the Salvation Army corps.
“A young family had just experienced the death of their young daughter, who was run over by a car. They were in much grief and needed comfort, as well as a church to conduct the funeral service. As soon as the phone rang at the corps, the League of Mercy officer and one of the assistant officers went to visit the family. The Army officers planned and conducted the funeral service. The family, who was unchurched, was invited to attend the corps meetings. And so they did…with their two young sons. In fact, they became very active in the corps.
“Through the years, the family became soldiers and local officers—and Lillie Baltazar has herself served as Home League secretary for the corps, offering the same solace and comfort that she received when she needed a friend.”
Another blessing was in store for Lillie and her family: God allowed them to have another daughter, who today is a young soldier in the corps.
“Home League is needful,” said Swyers, “for all of us—including women like Lillie and for countless others who haven’t yet found the joy of the Lord!”