Women of Excellence – Hawaii
by Judy Lee –
“Women of Excellence” was the theme of the recent Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division’s Women’s Rally. Led by Major Jan Mowery, divisional director of Women’s Organizations, and organized by Captain Patti Orion, assistant Women’s Ministries secretary, the 200 women made a journey back in time to recount the lives of women of excellence.
With a background of scenes projected on a large screen, the narrators recounted the story, first of Queen Liliuokalani, because of her loyalty to the Hawaiian people. She was a forerunner of the women’s movement and a leader in social and benevolent aid projects. A musician, she was the composer of “Aloha Oe.”
Elsie Wilcox, niece of a highly successful sugar plantation owner in Hawaii during the late 1800s, was committed to knowledge and focused much of her life on promoting education for the children of Hawaii. She was the first woman in the territory to hold a Territorial Senate seat.
Thelma Parker of the Parker Ranch distinguished herself, in her short life, for the care and assistance to many land workers of the estate. She created the Parker Foundation to safeguard the future well-being and prosperity for the ranchers and a trust that continues to this day to fund community projects in Waimea.
Julie Choi Riley, who grew up in the Salvation Army Hilo Girls’ Home, recalled the joy that Major Ruth McHarg brought into the home. “She filled the home with a joyful spirit and touched each one of us with her funny sense of humor,” said Riley. The influence of this joyful Major molded her into the person she is today.
Salvation Army women of today continue to inspire excellence: women like Brigadier Martie Ledesma Abella–a woman of perseverance and endurance. As a cadet she was interned in Manila during World War II, afterwards sharing many years of ministry with her husband, Florencio Abella.
Pamela Chun, a woman of integrity, founded Hawaiian Islands Ministries, along with her husband, Dan. People of integrity stick to their convictions, she said, and have a high sense of values and morals. For the Christian, integrity is all about being true to God and following Jesus Christ in obedience.
Images of Commissioner Doreen Edwards spilled onto the screen and a voice-over recounted her life as she was welcomed to the podium as one of The Salvation Army’s own Women of Excellence. After singling out a few of these women in the Bible, she encouraged each person to be a woman of excellence to her family, her community, in her profession, and most of all, for God. Many responded as she invited the women to come forward and accept Jesus Christ in their hearts or to rededicate their lives to him.
After a rousing session of “Praise Him! Praise Him!” there was a sumptuous lunch with the recognition of the Medical Fellowship and the Silver Star Mothers and Women’s Auxiliary.