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‘A season of going through’

Captain Kim Haworth is the Divisional Commander for NSW/ACT.

In an excerpt from an interview with Major Peter McGuigan, Captain Kim Haworth speaks about her vision for spiritual renewal in The Salvation Army


One of the high priorities of The Salvation Army in Australia today is becoming missionally sustainable.

We are building our mission plan around this concept of sustainability. First, it’s about ensuring everything we’re doing is on God’s agenda and that we’re doing what the Lord asks. Second, it’s about how we reinvigorate our mission. The idea of having gathered worshipping communities, communities of hope and community tables is how we are structuring ourselves. We are also developing faith expression collectives. It’s about maximising the mission outcomes from all we are doing.

But what really excites me is the reinvigoration of the five-fold ministry of the Church – that we are becoming again an apostolic, prophetic, evangelical, pastoral and learning community. We are experiencing a reinvigoration of being people of the Holy Spirit and listening to what God is asking us to do, even if it means moving on from old and no longer effective ways of being the Church.

When I served in Tasmania as Divisional Commander, I envisioned this kind of spiritual renewal happening, like a wave of water rolling across the island – a tsunami of the Spirit washing over us. A second vision I received – I only had two – was for developing organic faith expressions. I know that God is moving out in the periphery of communities, and we’ve got to find those people and do life with them, inviting them to be part of our family of faith. God is doing new things, and we have to discover what those new things are and enter into them.

We’re in a significant time for the Church. We’re not what we were, and we’re not yet what we’re becoming, but we’re in a season of going through. It’s our time to be the people of God, a time ordained for us. It truly is a new day for us, and I think we have to steward that really well. It’s about what God is asking of us in these days and being really attuned to the Holy Spirit. It’s about understanding who we really are as a Salvation Army and what made The Salvation Army so dynamic in its early days.

“It’s about what God is asking of us in these days and being really attuned to the Holy Spirit.”

It’s about seeing that we were born in the fire of Pentecostal force. That’s how Mrs General Minnie Carpenter wrote about The Salvation Army’s experience. It’s about being in and led by the Spirit and acting from that place without discrimination. The early Army was bold, brave and not risk-averse. We’ve now got this big movement with a big reputation and a big legacy. There’s a lot to risk. But we have to trust the Lord, go for it and move on the things God is moving on.

We’ve followed a natural progression that many churches and organisations follow. We have kind of fallen into that. When we started, we were really dynamic, adaptable and forward-thinking. We were doing practical things that made sense at the time and adopting practical methods that made sense at the time. These brought success to our mission.

But methods tend to become enshrined. We can have strong emotional attachments to them and adopt them as though they’re permanent. We were a fully mobile mission movement to begin with, but we kind of became a settled-down church with a social arm. So it’s about re-finding and reclaiming the spirit of that missional, brave rescue movement within our current organisation, which is amazing and still has the capacity to do incredible things.

I think we fell in love with ourselves a little bit too much and began celebrating ourselves a little bit too much. And we felt we had a lot to protect, whereas in the beginning, there was nothing to protect, and we just went after the mission of God. We shifted from an abandonment or at-all-costs mindset to a protective mindset. As a result, a whole new Salvation Army sub-culture sprung up that became too inward-focused. It’s a natural progression, but we need to seek the renewal of our spiritual heart and adapt ourselves and our methodology to the context of the 21st century.

On that note, sometimes when we’re changing methodology, we take the view that what we’re changing is bad or not good anymore or not right. We need to not think of it like that. I think we need to be like William and Catherine Booth and say, ‘What’s going to get us where we need to go?’ Obviously, we need to consider our Wesleyan theology and take into account the non-negotiables of The Salvation Army.

“God’s calling people all the time. He’s placing things on their heart all the time.”

But we must not think that what we are changing and moving and adapting is bad. We are simply, but urgently, recognising that the world has moved, people have moved, culture has moved, and we need to reinvent ourselves for a new way in a new day. This new way needs to be aligned to the Spirit and to the vision, the purpose and the theology of The Salvation Army.

God’s calling people all the time. He’s placing things on their heart all the time. Things they can do within their own community to further the mission. So, for us to be open to people doing that from a voluntary point of view or in a specific way with a specific group of people, I think, is vital today. The vision I had about organic spaces for ministry, although for Tasmania, could have been anywhere.

I could see there were strategically placed places of strength for The Salvation Army. Places where we excelled in fulfilling our local mission delivery model – Caring for People, Creating Faith Pathways, Building Healthy Communities and Working for Justice. Salvation Army corps and all our social programs were working together along with our mission enterprises.

In the vision, I saw a million twinkling stars all around these co-located places of strength for The Salvation Army, and the twinkling stars were all different sizes and shapes of twinkling and brightness. I just knew in my spirit that these were the product of vibrant organic ministry and that across the land, God’s people called The Salvation Army were inviting others to be part of what they had a passion to do – in being the people of God in their community.

I love the idea of spiritual renewal. I love us being the people of God and doing whatever God asks, even when it’s really out there. I love it when we know we’re in sync with what God’s asking of us and advancing the Kingdom of God by doing it.

I know I have to be across a whole lot of things as a Divisional Commander. I work really hard to ensure that I’m diligent about fulfilling the different aspects of my role. And that includes the complexity of being The Salvation Army in the current age. But I know that I am only in these roles because I want to be a woman after God’s heart who does what God says and who carries a passion for spiritual vibrancy in the people of God. I believe that’s the reason I’m in leadership right now.

* Captain Kim Haworth is Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. To read Peter McGuigan’s article about her life, titled ‘A Holy Discontent – Kim Haworth's journey to fulfilling God’s agenda’, click here


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