Territorial Women’s Officer Retreat held at High Peak Camp

Almost 25 years have passed since the last such retreat.

By Beth Desplancke, Major –

Women officers from across The Salvation Army Western Territory came together April 5-7 at High Peak Camp in Estes Park, Colorado, for a weekend of fellowship and encouragement. It was a time of refilling and recommitment, as well as rest and reconnection with sisters in Christ. The last Territorial Women’s Officer Retreat took place in September 1995.

Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, began the weekend with a time of prayer. She prayed for those who couldn’t attend, as well as ministries, families and responsibilities that were left behind, and for Army leaders. The weekend speakers and worship leader were also prayed over.

“Lord, may we hear you speak to us this weekend,” Hodder prayed in closing. “We expect miracles in your name.”

Guest speaker and author, Jo Saxton, spoke four times throughout the weekend. Speaking with honesty, humility and humor, she challenged those in attendance to step into and own their individual callings, to embrace the gifts God has provided and to celebrate the unique voice he has given each one. Saxton also addressed the issue of comparison and competition.

“Release your sisters to be who God has called them to be,” she said.  Celebrate the sisters around you—their beauty, diversity in gifts and their calls.” She also quoted an African proverb that seemed to resonate with the women: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The women could attend “Inspire” groups based on different seasons of life on Saturday afternoon. Many chose “Soul care” led by Ingrid Davis. Other groups focused on marriage, boundaries, burn-out, health, loneliness, motherhood of young children and motherhood of teens.

Over the weekend, six women received acknowledgement for their faithful service to the Lord—giving their all, frequently behind the scenes without asking for recognition, and often during difficult circumstances: Major Nancy Halverson, Major Vicky Villanea, Envoy Laura Bloom, Major Terrie Wilson, Major Cathy Quinn and Lt. Crystal Smoak. Three women were asked to share their testimony of what the Lord has been doing in their lives: Major Patricia Giron, Major Shannon Murphy and Captain Theresa Wiliams.

In addition to worship and Bible teaching, time was set aside for relaxation and rest, which many used to reconnect with friends from around the territory. Time was also reserved for prayer. Many women came to the altar even before the message and spent time on their knees praying for themselves, their families and their ministries. Fellow officers came alongside the women, encouraging and praying with them. Several retired officers who were unable to attend served on a prayer committee, praying for the attendees.

On Sunday morning every woman received a key necklace as an appreciation gift.  Colonel Colleen Riley, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries, shared that just as each key is different, each woman is different and has a unique calling.  

“This key reminds us of what we can unlock for the kingdom and what Christ wants to unlock in each of us, so we can be all he calls us to be,” Riley said. “Remember what God has unlocked in your life this weekend.”

Women left the weekend restored, ready to return to their appointments and their everyday lives. The Territorial Women’s Ministries Department does not want to wait 25 years for the next retreat and is already tentatively planning to have another one in three years.

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