by Major Rachel Stouder
Growing healthy and effective corps is much more likely when there is a solid foundation of local leaders who take ownership of the future of a corps. Unfortunately, many corps in the Indiana Division have experienced a lack of engaged soldiers who are willing to share the burden of leadership with their corps officers. The division has set out to change that.
Over the last year in response to the need for leaders and to assist corps in their development, the divisional program department began hosting a series of spiritual development retreats for leaders and preleaders. Held at camp, the retreats include united sessions on broad topics of spiritual development for leaders and smaller sessions which target subjects such as discipleship and spiritual giftedness.
During the pandemic it became clear that we had an opportunity to shift our retreat to a virtual setting though we admit trying this new way caused a bit of anxiety for us. Starting with Major Christopher Marques and six brave members of the Princeton, Ind., Corps, we gave it a shot—and it worked! We were able to worship, discuss deep topics and dream together about what leadership roles and new efforts the Holy Spirit might be urging the participants toward. While it was certainly different from our gathered retreat in many ways, there were elements from which we learned and are encouraged to offer it again.
“I enjoyed listening to others and what they had to say which helped me look at myself. I realized that I have more to give than what I think,” said Princeton, Ind., Corps Prayer Sergeant Pat Wilson. “That weekend helped me look deeper and step up to give God my all to Him. I do help out when I am able at my corps, but I realized I can give even more.”
Phil Hull’s job as Indiana divisional director of mission and spiritual development also shows the division’s priority of local leaders. As a life-long Salvationist and the corps sergeant-major at the Indianapolis Eagle Creek, Ind., Corps, he speaks with authority on the importance and necessity of a focused effort to identify, train and empower local leaders.
We believe local leaders must not be capable merely of carrying out the duties of a program but must execute their service as a part of their personal call to mission from Jesus as they engage in ongoing spiritual development.