Poland provides new model of ministry
Project Warsaw takes team approach; opens as church.
While opening a new work is nothing unusual for The Salvation Army, the manner in which the Army has started up in Poland reflects an innovative new model of ministry.
Instead of linking Poland to an established territory—providing strategy, staff, and finances—Project Warsaw is attached directly to the Europe Department of International Headquarters in London, and its development is coordinated by a team.
Colonel Vibeke Krommenhoek (France) is the leader. Team members and responsibilities are: Captains Andrei and Olga Inuitochkin—coordinating officers, based in Warsaw (Eastern Europe); Lt. Colonels Dan and Helen Starrett— fundraising, public relations, and recycling (USA National Headquarters); Major Hervé Cachelin—teaching and worship (Switzerland, Austria and Hungary); and Major Kelly Pontsler—finances and administration (France).
The intent, says Krommenhoek, is for the Army’s work in Poland be self-supporting from the start. “We won’t build anything we can’t afford. This is different from how the work started in other eastern European countries.”
Consequently, all corps activities take place at the Inuitochkin’s quarters, and on Sunday the Army rents a hall for meetings.
Building a strong local Army is central to this model. “We are preparing for local leaders to take over in a few years,” she adds. “We have been very involved in teaching people in their own language about The Salvation Army.” Soldiership classes use material developed by Major Chick Yuill, which has been translated into Polish. “We are educating people on Salvation Army distinctives,” Krommenhoek explained, “and developing a thorough foundation for the future.”
Started as a church
Starting the work as a church—and not a social service—is another significant difference in Project Warsaw.
Other Salvation Army ministries started in former communist countries all began as social work. In time, Project Warsaw hopes to have social work as well: financed locally and carried out by the corps. The Warsaw Corps has already ministered in both a local children’s home and a home for mentally impaired adults and youth.
“We applied for registration [with the government] as a church from the beginning,” Vibeke noted. “We did the most difficult thing first!” The application process has been complex and time-consuming. Currently in the final stages, they are awaiting news that the registration has been completed.
Because the registration is not yet in place, Olga and Andrei must return to Moldova every three months to apply for a visa to Poland—a time-consuming and expensive process.
In spite of the difficulties and challenges, the Army is making a difference. Says Wieslawa Sniadowska, 54, sergeant for evangelism and pastoral work, “I had prayed for a long time that the Lord would lead me to a church where evangelism would be an important value, since this is my gift and my passion for God’s kingdom. This prayer was heard at the moment I met and learned about The Salvation Army.”