THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN OF THE SALVATION ARMY
Happy International Women's Day! To commemorate this celebration, we recently asked our local female Area Commander and Officers what this day means to them.
Since its inception, The Salvation Army has been a ministry leader when its co-founders, Catherine and Willaim Booth, welcomed women within its leadership and church, providing an opportunity for all to do God's work together. Catherine Booth was a fairy and visionary preacher! Before Alcoholics Anonymous existed, she would hold house meetings for alcoholics in her own home, cementing The Salvation Army's role in embracing people struggling against addiction. She also held her own by going on traveling campaigns to help those in need.
In her book, Female Ministry, Catherine expressed her thoughts on a woman's role in a ministry. Catherine was a pioneer for the organization! She was in great demand as a preacher in her own right and influenced many who came after her.
When society did not provide women with the opportunities to sit at the table, the Booth's philosophy gave women a place and equality, resulting in 3 women being elected as Generals of The Salvation Army: Evangeline Booth; the first national commander of the United States and the world's most famous evangelist, Eva Burrows; was known as the People's General and is the longest-serving general in The Salvation Army, and Linda Bond; another outstanding preacher that helped expand the reach of The Salvation Army under her leadership. Women within The Salvation Army have always made contributions of equal and greater weight as men.
Yet, progress wasn't without its setbacks. In the late 19th century, married female officers were being addressed as little more than adjunct to their husbands, with their titles being associated with their husbands. A change came in 1995 when married female officers were finally titled in a rank of their own.
Women also served at the front lines during WW1, giving baked goods, spiritual and emotional support to soldiers. After discovering that doing baked goods would be difficult, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying donuts in soldiers' helmets. The women, nicknamed "Donut Lassies," are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops returned home from war.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the most prominent female pioneer on this side of the world. In 1865, 17-year-old Eliza Shirley made her way to the United States from London's East End. Without her, we would not have a nationwide presence of peace and hope for those most in need. Even more resounding is the impact of Captain Hattie B. Savage, known as Captain French. She and a band of four young women arrived in Houston in 1889 to take on the task of introducing Houston to a new form of service in faith by meeting human needs without discrimination. With them, they brought the Lord's music and message while playing on wooden sidewalks for all to hear. The Salvation Army's footprint grew throughout Texas and across the country.
There is no doubt that women have and continue to significantly impact our communities, our organization, and the world. We celebrate women today and every day!