Summer at the Norridge Citadel, Ill., Corps this year brought a series of events designed to engage its members and surrounding community in activities focused on the four areas of the corps’ vision statement— prayer, service, fellowship and worship— after a long year of limited interaction.
“Due to the year of COVID changes and not meeting together, one of the things we were especially missing in our congregation and community was fellowship,” said Captain Catherine Mount, corps officer, who leads Norridge with her husband, Captain Peter. “We created the goal to offer 12 opportunities to connect before September, and the idea for Summer Sundays was developed.”
Several soldiers and officers stepped up to take the lead on Summer Sunday events, which were held each Sunday afternoon from June through August and included fun service activities, community-oriented events and learning opportunities. Everyone was welcomed and encouraged to participate.
“We intentionally planned events that took us out of the building where people could see us,” said David Brooksbank, corps sergeant-major. “It was an opportunity for us to share more about The Salvation Army.”
Light-hearted options like a free car wash and a World Services walk at a local forest preserve, along with several picnics with outdoor games, were especially enjoyed by youth and families. These sunny-day activities allowed for spontaneous connection with members of the community as well as a chance to make a difference globally.
“I’m thrilled at the number of people who came out and walked,” said Blythe Marinelli, who organized the World Services walk. “It was a super hot day, but we had over 50 people of all ages participate and tripled our $1,000 goal!”
Other community-oriented events included a prayer walk led by Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson which took corps members through the neighborhood with the purpose of praying over people and businesses, and a mini concert by the corps band at a local park. Each of these activities provided visibility to The Salvation Army and gave corps members the opportunity to greet and engage with neighborhood residents.
“We want Jesus present in our neighborhood,” said Commissioner Sue. “As we walked we prayed over the homes and families; at the concert we invited them to our vacation Bible school. We redeemed this summer for the Lord, and it benefited us right along with the neighbors we met and prayed for.”
Learning opportunities were a highlight, bringing corps members together to take a spiritual gifts inventory, study the history of The Salvation Army, explore the life and convictions of Samuel Logan Brengle, and learn about the Army’s international social justice efforts. During these important and informative seminars, children’s activities were provided to ensure all who wanted to participate would be able.
Captain Catherine concluded, “With the help of our spiritual life council and soldiers, we had a summer full of opportunities to connect to one another and to grow in our faith. After such a difficult year, it was an incredible blessing to fellowship, to worship, to serve, and to pray together.”