by Debora Bell, Lt. Colonel –
Did you know that the Women’s Ministries department is responsible for cradle roll? Think about it—it is a natural! Women are the primary caregivers of babies and young children…babies and young children cannot bring themselves to The Salvation Army, but their needs can bring their caregivers. Seems to me we have a new slogan to explore: “The hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world.”
The long-neglected cradle roll program is finding a new life in a number of places. For example, a program designed for babies and moms in Europe has transformed corps programs and communities. The program, called Baby Song, is simple in structure and easy to join; the success of the program relies on building relationships.
I was thinking about Baby Song the other night, and wondered how I might use this ministry for total corps involvement. Now, one of my loves is quilts. When in San Diego, my friend Major Ronda Gilger used quilting as a way to introduce women to The Salvation Army. She went to the local craft store and to a fabric store, where she posted flyers inviting women to attend an eight-week quilting class. The women had to sign up and pay a fee that covered materials and instruction costs. Each woman brought a sewing machine to class. (Space was limited to 12.) The class was full, and 80 percent of the women were new to The Salvation Army.
I would start a similar group. First, I would learn about the local quilting groups to see if I could locate an instructor. After our first eight-week class, I would invite the women to return for another eight weeks to practice their new skills and give something back by making a quilt for the Baby Song class. (We would use donated material collected from fabric stores, the ARC and from women we convinced to clean out their stash of material.) One or two of the “stars” from the first class could volunteer to coordinate the new class.
Cooking is another avenue for relationship building. Personally, I dislike cooking—but there are people who actually love to cook, like my friends Lt. Colonels Don and Isa McDougald. When our Oxnard, Calif., Home League and their Ventura Home League met together, the McDougalds often included a cooking class. This has given me another thought: why not invite a Home Economics teacher from a local high school or college to come and teach a three-week class on easy, healthy snack foods for kids? The class could practice their new skills by making snacks for the Baby Song group. I could be there to give a devotional thought, get to know the students and help build relationships. Perhaps one or two would come back and teach future classes.
What about you? Do you have a clean, safe place where moms and babies can bond through learning, music and exercise? Do you believe in ministry to women and children? Baby Song and a little imagination may be the very program that will rock your world. Baby Song materials are available on request from Major Joan Doughty. She has the details on cost and other information. You can e-mail her at: Joan_Doughty@usw.salvationarmy.org or send a letter to her at: The Salvation Army, 180 E. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802.
Speaking of ministry to children, have you thought of a story hour? You could do this at your corps or perhaps at your local library. There are many great children’s books, and I can recommend a new book that could get you started. To celebrate the Army’s “2005—The Year for Children and Youth,” the Western Territory is publishing an illustrated children’s book, Lyssa Lamb.
Written and illustrated by Major Ronda Gilger and myself, the character and her first story were “born” in San Diego in 1992 and live in my heart and mind. In God’s perfect time Lyssa is making her debut this June. I want to say a big thank you to all who played a part in bringing her to life.