by Michelle DeRusha
Connecting with corps officers across the Western Division’s vast geographical distance can be a challenge, which is one reason why divisional leaders Majors Poppy and Greg Thompson recently launched the Mission Mentoring program.
“Congregationally, across our division and beyond, numbers are declining, and we want corps officers to know they are not the only ones in this battle,” said Major Poppy. “This is an opportunity for us to come alongside each other.”
The idea for Mission Mentoring was sparked by the Crest Books Christ at the Door: The Biblical Key to Our Salvationist Future written by Commissioner Phil Needham to help Salvationists revitalize themselves and their corps. Majors Poppy and Greg were inspired to form a monthly book club with divisional headquarters (DHQ) officers which blossomed into the idea of Mission Mentoring with corps officers.
“God basically shouted into our souls, ‘You need to share this, everything I am inspiring in you, with those you have been called to lead.’ Out of that moment Mission Mentoring was born,” said Major Greg.
In addition to two groups of four corps officers, officers from an additional eight corps are paired with a member of the DHQ officer team. The book club kicked off at officers’ councils last October and then split into their designated Mission Mentoring groups to read and discuss a chapter by conference call, FaceTime or Skype each week through the end of December.
“The Mission Mentoring book club has encouraged us to think deeply about our ministries at the corps and our outreach to our community,” said Captain Kelsie Moreno, of the Rapid City, South Dakota Corps, who, along with her husband, Captain Javier Moreno, was paired with Major Poppy. “We are excited to launch a mentoring process this winter with key soldiers and leaders and see where it takes us.”
Ultimately, the Thompsons’ goal for Mission Mentoring is to expand the program with each corps. “Our hope is that this will be a catalyst for discipling initiatives,” said Major Poppy. “It’s imperative that soldiers, lay people and staff members catch the vision for mission and understand that everyone is necessary for battle in our Army.”