WHAT IS THIS SALVATION ARMY WOMEN’S PROGRAM?
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we celebrates Home League, the Salvation Army women’s ministry program. Home League is a four-fold program for women age 16 and up that focuses on service, worship, education and fellowship.
“It’s a good program,” said Maj. Amy Edmonds of the Madisonville, KY Salvation Army. “Some of the presentation has changed but the basics haven’t, and I think it’s because it’s tried and true. The four-fold core is great because it gives everyone a balanced look at what we do; it’s not just partying all the time or doing service projects all the time.”
The Madisonville Home League meets at 3 p.m. Tuesdays. During this time, the women often work on service projects, which include making crafts to take to nursing homes and shut-ins, packaging small bags of holiday candy for soup kitchen diners, holding a kitchen shower for the soup kitchen (to collect items it’s in need of) and helping at the family store.
There is also time for worship and fellowship. When it comes to fellowship, the group, like other Home Leagues, loves bingo. There’s also a party every 4-6 months to celebrate the birthdays within that time, and in February, the women had a Sweethearts Banquet with the men’s club and the youth programs, where they played games, ate and sang “silly love songs.”
“Fellowship is always fun!” Edmonds said.
With worship, the women generally follow suggestions from a Home League manual, and Edmonds said they especially love worship that’s very musical, like one program where she played videos on a screen while they all sang. Another program that was popular was one she did around Halloween about “Are you hiding behind a mask,” where the women put on paper masks and wrote down personal things they needed to work on.
Once a month, a subset of the group, called The Rolling Tootsies, takes a trip somewhere up to a few hours away for a fun trip that generally fulfills the Home League education component for the month. This month, the Tootsies went to the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY; other trips have been to Evansville, IN; Nashville and Clarksville, TN and Owensboro, KY, and the women hope to one day go to Memphis to see Graceland.
“We’re pretty active for the few women that we have,” Edmonds said, noting that approximately 12-14 women age 17 up to their 70s attend Home League in the small city each week and an average of 8 go on Rolling Tootsies trips.
In addition to Home League meetings and Rolling Tootsies trips, members also help out regularly with the group’s ongoing bake sale at the family store. Edmonds said this started just for Mother’s Day, but then it began to spread to other occasions before becoming permanent. Two different ladies work each day for about four hours, serving homemade treats made by Edmonds in the Salvation Army kitchen.
“They’re doing very well,” Edmonds said. “They kind of serve as greeters; as soon as you open the door, the table is there. They welcome people to the store.”
She added that women have previously offered to make and bring treats but it’s easier for her to make them there at the corps and then have the women help with the selling. Most of the money raised from the bake sale goes to help with Home League projects, including the annual women’s retreat at Camp Paradise Valley and the group’s offering to support the Mexican children’s homes the division sponsors; occasionally, it is earmarked for other Salvation Army needs, like this month’s profits that went to pay for Youth Council, which happened earlier in the month.
The Bristol Salvation Army Home League is larger than the Madisonville group, but it’s still not huge. Major Diane Fultz said it counts 50 women, ranging in age from 20s to 80s, in membership, with an average of 32-38 attending each weekly meeting.
Of the women, she said, “It’s a cross-section of so many types. They’re country bumpkins up to very educated. It amazes me how everyone comes alongside one another and supports one another no matter the differences.”
The women meet Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Like Madisonville, their meetings are a mixture of the different Home League components, frequently flowing from devotional time into an education program or service project with fellowship time spread throughout.
When it comes to the devotional time/worship, Fultz said one of her group’s favorite activities is Bible trivia. “We’ve done that quite a few times. It’s really an education for the ladies, and it makes you feel good when you know the answers.”
Additionally, she said there are different women in the group who are gifted in the worship area, using their talents to share; one woman is a very good artist so she draws her story as she tells it, and another does a traditional Bible study with papers to follow and questions to answer. Also, recently, the women did a prayer station program, where they visited seven prayer stations that had different types of prayer activities.
As for service projects, those are usually activities that raise money for The Salvation Army, specifically the world missions they have, like the Mexican children’s homes. Frequently, Home League will hold auctions to raise this money.
“A couple of weeks ago, we had a silent auction in addition to a dinner that we served. I think it raised about $200 or $300, so they’re small endeavors, but if you have enough of them, you can earn your money,” Fultz said.
Another fun thing they were preparing for as Maj. Fultz was interview was a fashion show within the Home League. “Each of the ladies has an outfit they’re going to model for us, and then we’re going to auction it off,” she said.
“These are by no means models or super clothes; I mean if the gamut is up to 80, you know what you’re going to get. We’re probably going to make fun of each other walking down the catwalk,” she added with a laugh. “It’s just going to be a lot of fun. In doing the fundraising, we have a lot of fun.”
Fellowship is also a lot of fun. It can be an actual party or get-together or just some time when the women can enjoy each other’s company, Fultz said, adding that the company is enjoyed alongside snacks because “We always eat. You can’t have a meeting without the refreshments!”
With education, the group generally has a guest speaker come. The most recent topic was diabetes, and Fultz said the women had a very good discussion about that. They have also done exercise classes and soon will have a health-related program taught by one of the members.
That member’s program is just one way the Home League women have helped Fultz, who has just been at the Bristol Salvation Army with her husband, Major Art Fultz, since June. She came from a smaller corps where she had to do everything.
“When I was in my previous appointment, I did the refreshments, I mostly did the program, and my husband or I did the pickups. But here, there are so many that often I can just go and be a part. It’s a blessing to not always have to run the program.”
Just hanging out with the women, enjoying interacting and laughing with them, is Fultz’ favorite part of Home League. That fellowship of meeting together is the best, she said.