On the road with Women's Ministries
On a four-day whirlwind tour throughout New Zealand, up to 1000 people were blessed by the ministry of Commissioners Rosalie Peddle and Bronwyn Buckingham, along with Captain Krista Andrews from Australia.
Organised by Women’s Ministries (WM), the tour was a homecoming of sorts for the international leaders, with Rosalie having served in the Northern Division as divisional leader for two years and Bronwyn being a proud Kiwi.
The tour began in Christchurch, on Saturday, 30 April. After the recent terrorist attacks, the encouragement, support and spiritual investment they brought were perfectly timed. Women from all over the South Island travelled to be a part of the much anticipated #WMtour2019 event, with 220 in attendance on Saturday, before a combined service on Sunday morning.
Bridget McLay came from Ōamaru for the event and said it was a wonderful day ‘just for her’, but where God was the most important person. ‘The thing that stood out for me was that I can do all things, great and mighty things through God—but it’s important to stay humble because it is God who is great and mighty, not me.’
The sessions were themed ‘women of value’ and ‘women of valour’ and were full of creativity with dances in each session, a spoken word performance, beautiful displays on stage and in the foyer, and a special keepsake for each woman to remind them of their value as daughters of God.
One of the most moving moments took place early on Sunday morning as the tour party laid fresh roses outside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque, where 42 people had died on Friday, 15 March.
After laying the flowers, the group stood silently, arms around each other, before Rosalie prayed for everyone impacted by the unimaginable actions fueled by hatred: ‘Help us be the instruments of love and peace, help us to love our neighbour.’ She prayed for the city of Christchurch and its people, that they would know God’s love and peace as they begin to rebuild from this tragedy, as well as praying for the Christian community of the city.
During the morning church service, Bronwyn spoke of the prayer support from around the world for Christchurch and what it was like to be so far from home during these days. She shared a phrase from the sermon at London’s Regent Hall, the Sunday after the attack:
‘We saw on the television images of people coming together, united in love—regardless of religion, regardless of race—the Holy happening amidst agony … And [today] I saw amidst those flowers, the messages, and thought again, “The Holy does happen amidst agony”.’
The tour moved north to Wellington on Monday, beginning with a day for officers from across Central Division. It included an ‘on the couch’ session, with Major Christina Tyson interviewing Bronwyn, Krista and Rosy Keane on a range of meaty topics, including gender equity, faith and relationships—as well as a few more light-hearted moments, like how they met their husbands.
The division held a coffee and dessert evening at Johnsonville with women travelling from as far away as Levin, for a night of inspiration and encouragement. Major Julie Cope was one of the around 160 women who were blessed to sit under the ministry of Rosalie and Bronwyn at the dessert evening. ‘Women’s ministries in The Salvation Army—both internationally and territorially—is certainly heading in the right direction,’ said Julie. ‘As always Johnsonville Corps excelled themselves as excellent hosts of this event.’ Rosy emceed the evening and presented spoken word, Krista danced, and Rosalie spoke.
She preached with passion and zeal each time—it didn’t matter whether it was to an overflowing congregation in Christchurch, intimate officers gatherings or public evenings in Wellington and Auckland. Seeing the mercy seats lined with people responding to God’s Holy Spirit was a great encouragement and reflected the hunger for more of God in the territory.
Rosalie’s message about living with outrageous courage and unshakable confidence particularly resonated with women, young and older, across the country.
Sharing her testimony, Bronwyn said how good it was to be home in a ministry capacity since leaving six years ago to serve overseas. Speaking from her personal experience of the cost of saying ‘yes’ to God, Bronwyn encouraged women to take up their cross and place their confidence in God, who is trustworthy.
Krista ministered throughout the tour with singing and a blend of sign language, dance and mime. ‘I don’t really know what to call it,’ she said with her infectious laugh. Whatever label you want to give it, it drew people into God’s presence and expressed his great, all-consuming love for them, and transitioned people into a reflective space before each sermon.
In Auckland, 42 young women and corps leaders ‘chewed the fat’ over pizza with the international leaders at the ‘exchange’ dinner. It was a chance for young women in the division to engage with international Women’s Ministries leadership, said Divisional Youth Secretary Captain Naomi Holt. There were some tough questions asked back and forth and it was great to see such engagement and passion from everyone. ‘The young women were assured their voices were important and valued, and they were encouraged by Rosalie and Bronwyn to find mentors who will lift them up,’ said Naomi. The Commissioners both spoke of their heart for young women, and their desire to see change that benefits the coming generation of women leaders.
At the public event that evening, a stunning rendition of ‘Nau Mai Rā—Welcome Home’ was performed as the leaders were brought to the platform to be greeted by the 200-plus crowd. It was of special significance because the English version had been sung to Commissioner Rosalie and General Brian Peddle, when they were welcomed as divisional leaders to the Northern Division all those years ago.
Major Marilyn Tremain brought four women from Glenfield Corps and they were absolutely delighted by the evening. ‘One of the ladies said that it was the best ladies’ worship event she had experienced since coming to The Salvation Army,’ said Marilyn.
Territorial President of Women’s Ministries Commissioner Yvonne Westrupp reflected: ‘Women came with expectation and encountered God. There was Holy Spirit energy and power at each gathering. I was personally encouraged in my own spiritual journey and sense that God is at work in the territory in a powerful way. I am so grateful to Commissioners Rosalie Peddle and Bronwyn Buckingham and Captain Krista Andrews for their ministry. They were God’s gift to us for this time.’
By Shar Davis (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 4 May 2019, p14-15 - You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.