A new program called Amplify is being pioneered in the Western Division for youth in seventh through tenth grades.
“The program is about amplifying Christ in the lives of our middle teens… cultivating an understanding of The Salvation Army and its mission as much more than their corps but worldwide, too,” said Captain Jolinda Shelbourn, Western divisional youth secretary, who created the program. “This program was developed as a way to build youth corps leadership in the middle teens and is designed to amplify Christ through education, service and worship.”
The captain noted she is seeing this age group dwindle as they get old enough to work or drive a car, and it’s been challenging to engage them.
Amplify consists of standout youth from around the division. The application process is extensive. Each applicant must complete a written testimony, an essay about why he or she should participate and list their extracurricular activities both in the corps and personally. They also must be willing to commit to the two-year program.
As part of year one, members attend a Youth Specialties conference in Dallas, Texas, for leadership training. Additionally they’ll have an opportunity to see a bigger picture of the Army by visiting a corps outside of their home territory. During the first year they’ll also prepare and share their personal testimony at their home corps and choose an area of leadership in which to serve their corps through the summer and into Christmas season.
After a year-end evaluation from their corps officer, they enter the second year of the program with a trip to Chicago to visit the College for Officer Training (CFOT) and Central Territorial Headquarters. During this trip they will worship at a Chicago-area corps and complete a service project. Next, the teens will choose a corps within the Western Division to visit, complete a service project and lead Sunday worship.
The goal is for each participant to develop a personal ministry plan and discover God’s plan for their future, which may include officership.
The first group of Amplify participants are now in their second year and enthusiastic about it. Member Megan Hoskin, a soldier and teen Bible study leader at Omaha Citadel, Neb., Corps, hopes to be an officer one day and was especially excited to visit the CFOT. She said, “I chose to join Amplify because it sounded like an awesome opportunity to grow in my walk with God.”