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Junior soldiers on the march in Atherton Tablelands

Junior soldiers on the march in Atherton Tablelands

Junior soldiers on the march in Atherton Tablelands

The young people of Atherton Tablelands Corps are sharpening the missional focus of the corps, says Lieutenant Kate Cathcart.

By Simone Worthing

At the Atherton Tablelands Corps in Far North Queensland, the way church is done is changing.

The change is largely driven by the enthusiastic response the corps has received from children wanting to become junior soldiers, and other young people who are no longer connected with the church, wanting in renew their junior soldier promises.

The Corps Officer, Lieutenant Kate Cathcart, enrolled eight junior soldiers on Sunday 11 June – the corps’ celebration of Junior Soldier Renewal Day.
 
“Six of the junior soldiers are new to the Salvos over the last two years,” said Lieut Cathcart. “They are amazing kids, with parents who support and encourage them to be involved.”

All except one of the new junior soldiers have come to the corps through connections with the Doorways program, or through extended family.

Ten children, who were enrolled as junior soldiers in previous years but are no longer connected to the corps for various reasons, were invited to and attended a “bootcamp” sleepover on 10 June, and also renewed their Junior Soldier promises during the Sunday meeting.

“This interest and response from our children is gradually changing the way we do church,” said Lieut Cathcart. “It’s a learning curve for me, as we all learn how to be better at engaging the children and incorporating them into what we are doing, and not just in a token way.

“We had been looking at ways to make our mission more effective, and, out of all the small groups we tried to start, it was junior soldiers that really took off.

“This is an affirmation of God’s calling to our corps, which ranges in number from five to 30 people. We have been searching God’s plan and purpose for us, and for the mission of the Army here, and how we can answer that call.
 
“God is showing that to us, using us for his purpose, and is always faithful. We are also excited that the flow-on effect from our ministry to children will impact other families.”

Over the past couple of years, Lieut Cathcart and her team have occasionally included crafts, plays and children’s songs into the meeting as a way of engaging with their youngest members.
 
“Since the junior soldiers’ weekend, we have seen an increase in our children’s willing involvement in church including operating the Easy Worship system and participation in Bible readings,” said Lieut Cathcart. “We have also seen the kids move from sitting up the back colouring in to sitting further forward and joining in. We also want to increase our junior soldier meetings and activities. These are small but significant steps.
 
“One of the key things I want to do better is to empower our children and help to build their confidence in all aspects of their walk with Jesus.
 
“There is still lots for us to learn and plenty of awkward moments, but we will continue to investigate ways of including all our people.
We are just trying to figure this out. In simplest terms, a place of love for all people to grow in their relationship with God and with each other.

“We try new things, new groups. Some stick, others don’t, we keep and build what works and move on from what doesn’t. I would love to see more small groups developing with a range of leaders. For so many of our folk, smaller groups are a preferred setting and I think that this is an important part of our future – not so much to out grow our building on a Sunday, but to grow our people and provide effective opportunities for more people to encounter Jesus.”

Lieut Cathcart and her team plan also plan to develop the connection points they have in the town – such as the Doorways site at the Salvos Store, where people often drop in for a chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

The corps also engage in a number of activities with the Church of Christ, who own the local Access Place Café.

“We have a lot of crossover with other churches and people in the community which helps us build relationships with people, and are looking forwarding to developing those and engaging our community,” said Lieut Cathcart.

Over the next few months, every Sunday, Others will feature different areas where #salvoschurchlife is thriving and ask why. Please, show us what your #salvoschurchlife looks like by posting a photo to on a public Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page using the hashtag #salvoschurchlife or tell us your story by emailing: others@aus.salvationarmy.org

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