Service Corps teams focus on tangible acts of service

Corps members singing in Chile.

The idea for a short-term summer mission program—Service Corps—developed in 1966 to provide young Salvationists an opportunity to serve people around the world.

For six weeks this summer, 29 young adults, ages 18-25, represented the Western Territory on four continents, serving the Army in various capacities.

“Two significant byproducts of the Service Corps experience are personal spiritual growth and leadership development for many of the young adults that serve,” said Jim Sparks, Western Territory youth development and leadership director and Service Corps organizer.

“Service Corps doesn’t stop after summer—it’s a training ground for a lifetime commitment of involvement and activity in the corps,” Sparks said. “We want the teams to have a cultural experience and gain a better knowledge of what the Army is doing in all parts of the world and then bring that back to their corps—to get other people excited about missions and about the Army.”

This year, the teams participated in the following:

The USA team traveled around the Western Territory making stops in San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Ketchikan and Klawock, Alaska, to work alongside local corps and better understand what The Salvation Army does in the West. They participated in Sunday meetings with songs, dramas, giving testimonies and sermons, and also worked in adult rehabilitation centers, drop-in centers, Silvercrest centerss, vacation Bible schools and social service programs.

The Czech Republic team traveled the European country to provide youth ministry. They witnessed to young people—especially gypsy children who are usually left alone and not cared for—and cleared brush and trash from Army property.

The Jamaica team split their time between the Kingston and Hopewell corps. They provided youth ministry, went on visitations and participated in a tent revival meeting where team member Robert Williams spoke on behalf of the team. Williams also conducted a funeral while in Jamaica. The team concluded the summer by painting the corps in preparation for its anniversary.

The Argentina team began the summer with manual labor, everything from sanding to patching holes in walls. They also participated in local corps programming and helped develop youth activities.

The Chile team spent three weeks in a small city outside of Santiago teaching music and English classes, and helping with landscaping and painting projects. They then traveled to Santiago and performed similar tasks, including painting a mural in the corps youth room.

The Hong Kong team taught English classes for young children and ran summer day camps. They had many opportunities to hold “American days” when the Chinese kids learned about American culture.

Rachel Thieme participated in a Washington D.C. internship as part of a new program that allows college students to intern with Salvation Army units. She worked with the social justice department of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) at national headquarters to perform research on specific projects.

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