One couldn’t ask for a better metaphor than “salt of the earth” to describe both the people and geology of Hutchinson, Kan., which has one of the world’s largest underground salt formations with the purest portion still being mined 650 feet underground since 1887. Seven years later, mirroring Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:13a (“You are the salt of earth…”), The Salvation Army began its work in the town.
Hutchinson Corps Officers Major Paul and Captain DJ James celebrated the corps’ 125-year milestone at its annual “Portraits of Hope” fundraising dinner followed by a Homecoming Sunday. Although they’d been there for less than two months, the Jameses held the same pride as the congregation, advisory board and community for The Salvation Army’s ministry to the people of Reno County. Among the celebrants were two centenarian soldiers, Major Lurline Duskin and Helen Parker.
The Jameses believe meeting needs and establishing relationships are vital to Kingdom building, discipleship and corps growth in Hutchinson. As part of its social services, the corps utilizes Pathway of Hope (one graduate, Tara, shared her story at the dinner) and has established partnerships with a feeding and home-delivery ministry and a local food bank based in the corps building, plus churches and other groups.
The Jameses are happy to see the building increasingly being used as a community center. “With people constantly streaming in and out, they’re learning what else the corps offers and are finding a place where they can belong,” said Captain DJ.
The corps holds weekly Club 3:16 meetings for youth grades K-12 and music classes in brass, piano and ukulele. Free martial arts classes are offered twice a week and open gym is held once a week after school for youth and one evening a week for adults. A future dream is partnering with the city’s park district to provide a much-needed playground for children and families in the corps’ neighborhood.
Women’s ministries meets weekly during the day, and an evening group meets once a month, as does men’s ministries. Captain DJ said the men and women were a tremendous help in staging the corps’ 125th anniversary celebration, as was the advisory board which the captain described as spectacular.
“Board members were very supportive and active in obtaining sponsorships from local businesses, plus advertising and spreading excitement about the dinner, which was attended by 175 people and raised $11,450,” Captain DJ continued. Guests viewed a presentation on the history of the Army in Hutchinson and services provided over the years followed by a look at the much broader array of needs being met today.