The gifts of time, presence and practical service given in the name of Christ are hallmarks of Salvation Army ministry. From the early days of “Soup, Soap and Salvation,” Salvationists have dedicated themselves to meeting people’s needs in His name without discrimination.
As corps are faced with the challenge of serving people amid the ongoing pandemic, community care ministries (CCM) has taken on new significance. CCM is conducted year-round by officers, soldiers, youth and volunteers who meet tangible and spiritual needs by showing kindness, providing service and sharing Christ’s love, which according to Major Jo Langham, territorial community care ministries secretary, is the crux of CCM.
“CCM is about caring for the community I live in, work in, serve in,” Major Jo said. “CCM can be anything a corps member or volunteer does in the name of The Salvation Army to bless an individual, family or group in the community. The opportunities are endless.”
The major encourages officers and soldiers to reimagine how CCM can be done during the pandemic.
“Many traditional CCM activities are off due to the pandemic,” Major Jo said. “Understandably, visits and gifts for patients at hospitals, nursing homes and VA clinics are not being allowed in most cases, but there’s so much more we can be doing. It’s finding our way through this pandemic and thinking about how we can continue to live out the mission.”
Where traditional CCM Christmas activities have been impeded by the pandemic, Major Jo suggests providing a meal or gift for the facility’s caregivers in lieu of gifts for residents. To connect with residents and spread holiday cheer while practicing safe social distancing, she suggests working with staff to schedule a time for the corps’ band to visit and play outside the facility at people’s windows.
Another suggestion is to pack personal protective equipment in kits for the homeless containing a reusable mask, hand sanitizer, gloves and individually packaged food items. “Like the rest of us, homeless individuals are wary of being in close contact with others,” said Major Jo. “They may avoid entering shelters. Handing out kits can help them stay healthy.”
Many CCM groups throughout the territory already have been reaching out while practicing social distancing to keep themselves and others safe.
In Logansport, Ind., Major Michele Harms and her team have focused on caring for frontline workers by packing and distributing ministry bags to the staff of nursing homes, the health department, an emergency pop-up COVID-19 hospital and a daycare that remained open to serve essential workers, among others.
“During COVID we wanted to do something for the essential workers to help life continue as smoothly as possible,” said the major. “We distributed ministry bags every Monday for six weeks and have continued to provide bags on a monthly basis to businesses as they reopen to encourage them through this new time.”
Led by A/Captains Mika and Grace Roinila, the Fulton Heights Citadel, Mich., Corps CCM has assisted the most vulnerable members of their community by cooking meals for distribution to the homeless, delivering food and crafts to the homes of older adults and families, and dispatching their Helping Hands men’s ministries to perform yard work or paint decks or fences free of charge for older adult program members.
Indiana Divisional Headquarters teamed up with Degree of Honor volunteers to pack bags for distribution to local police officers. “Inside we put a devotional book, candy, snacks and Kleenex,” said Captain Antonia Marak, community care ministries secretary. “We also enclosed a prayer card for them to fill out so we know how we can pray for them specifically.”
Whether it’s a spontaneous act of kindness or a structured and scheduled event, according to Major Jo, CCM activities should be recorded and recognized in order to help tell the full story of The Salvation Army’s mission and ministry during the pandemic.
For more information about community care ministries or to become a member, see your corps officer.