Western Women Meet Diverse Needs Through Innovative Ministries
FAIRBANKS, ALASKA–(l-r)Major Nila Fankhauser, Major Joann Brodin, Colonel Gwen Luttrell, Major Deborah Green, and Major Virginia Gilman join in presentation of Women’s Outreach Ministries contest award.
by Sue Schumann –
“We are attempting to provide choices to reach people who are longing to find fulfillment and satisfaction,” states Colonel Gwen Luttrell, territorial women’s ministries secretary, as she explains some important changes which have taken place recently in the Army’s ministry to women in the West.
The most significant change came in 1996, she says, when the Western Territory renamed the Home League and Women’s Outreach Ministries department, designating it Women’s Ministries. “We were the first of the four U.S. territories to do so,” she explains.
Not merely a name change, the new designation reflected a broadened outlook on the part of the Army as it seeks to relate to women of all ages. Assisting in its ongoing evaluation is Women’s Ministries 2000. “Women’s Ministries 2000 has been developed to assess the present Women’s Ministries to determine their effectiveness, strengths, potential for future effectiveness in attracting women, and meeting their social, spiritual, personal and family needs. In addition, it will identify areas needing to be changed or amended and will propose creative ways to assure the effectiveness of Women’s Ministries into the year 2000.
Home League, Home League Circles and Women’s Outreach Ministries all come under the umbrella of Women’s Ministries, with each designed to meet specific needs of today’s women.
The Home League, with its fruitful and productive past, has grown tremendously since its birth 90 years ago in 1907. Now one of the largest women’s organizations in the world, it is respected around the globe. “When it began, it was one of only three church organizations that allowed non-church members to belong,” says Luttrell. “This has probably been one of its strongest components and provides tremendous opportunities for outreach into communities to reach women and their families for Christ.”
The West currently has 282 Home Leagues. Highly organized, with a systematic structure allowing for growth and vitality, Home Leagues provide a nurturing environment for many.
Home League Circles
In addition to the traditional Home Leagues, Home League Circles have been developed to accommodate the needs of women who cannot attend the regular Home League meetings but would like to be members of the Home League. “These Circles provide an option to move forward to meet the needs of women in new and exciting ways,” Luttrell says.
Circles may be created for women in specific age categories; held at a time other than the regular Home League meetings; or at a location other than the corps, such as a home, community or recreation center, etc.
They are often created for women whose language is other than English, as well as for special interest groups, such as Bible study, crafts, parenting, and so on. There are now 58 Circles in the territory.
LONG BEACH TEMPLE CORPS–Captain Rhonda Gilger demonstrates a craft project for Home League members.
Women’s Outreach Ministries
“Around 1982 there was a stirring–an expressed desire to change the name of the Home League–to lift the image of our work with women and their families,” says Luttrell. “Through these years we have expanded the name to include Women’s Outreach Ministries in order to provide for flexibility in programming to meet the needs of women who are unable and/or not desirous of participating in Home League itself.”
Distinguished from the traditional Home League, these groups are very flexible, existing for six weeks, six months, a year–whatever meets the needs of those participating. No membership is required.
Introduced to encourage experimentation and provide a wide range of opportunity to reach new women and provide ministries that help meet their physical, social and spiritual needs, some of the ministries include recovery groups, study groups, prayer groups, support groups, fellowship/activity groups and task groups.
Designed to be free to grow and develop in a manner that makes them most successful, groups are developed by evaluating needs in the local community. To date, 264 Women’s Outreach Ministries are operating in the West, with more than 31,500 in attendance.
Looking ahead to 1998, Women’s Ministries has identified the following goals to strengthen its growing ministry to women throughout the territory: encourage the formation of local, divisional and territorial prayer cells, with a vision to evangelize and spiritually establish women and their families; provide opportunities for discipleship; communicate the validity and impact of Women’s Ministries through newsletters and other means of communication; and follow through with the Women’s Work Commission’s recommendations for Women’s Ministries of tomorrow.