A role to listen in The Salvation Army

by Hugo Bravo

When Heather Green begins her new job as The Salvation Army Eastern Territory’s second-ever Territorial Sergeant Major, she will be the new voice and representation of Army soldiers across the Eastern Territory.

“As Territorial Sergeant Major, I will have the opportunity to listen to the soldiers and bring their ideas and what’s important to them to Salvation Army leadership,” says Heather, whose role will begin in June 2024. “This will be in addition to my current, full-time role as Director of Human Services in the New Jersey Division. That involves making sure that the territory’s social services are operating at the highest standards possible and making a real impact on the communities they serve.”

Along with her Director Human Services and Territorial Sergeant Major duties, Heather will also continue to be the Young People Sergeant Major for her own Salvation Army church, the Montclair Citadel in northern New Jersey.

“Local officership is still very important to me,” explains Heather. “Though corps officers may change every few years, local officers don’t. They stay and help maintain continuity where they serve. My new role will support what I do locally and also expand across the Eastern Territory.”

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to giving so many people a voice and an outlet for their ideas, says Heather. It’s an ongoing challenge beyond surveys, email blasts, or even having someone present to speak for their division in the territory.

“I never want anyone to feel like his or her individual voice doesn’t matter in The Salvation Army. Hearing those voices is a big part of my new role. We need to get to the heart of what’s happening even in the smallest of Army churches, respond to what they tell us, and follow up with them,” says Heather. “It can be as simple as asking them about their own lives and families, or if they had a chance to speak to their corps officer about the great new idea that they shared with me the last time we spoke.”

With so many hats to wear in The Salvation Army, it can feel like questions and responsibilities are coming from every direction, every minute. But this is why it’s so important to Heather that she herself slows down (even if everyone else won’t), and really make connections with the people she meets.

“That’s where those relationships really grow and flourish,” says Heather. “And when I myself slow down, I can feel guidance from the Lord come to me.”

It wasn’t until she quieted her heart and mind that Heather felt ready to accept the position of Territorial Sergeant major. She admits that if she felt fully confident and fit to take on the responsibilities on day one, she would not have been the right person.

“The foundation of the work we do is never asking what we want from ourselves, or even asking what The Salvation Army wants from us. It’s asking what the Lord wants from us,” says Heather. “I did not feel equipped for this calling, but that’s because it’s God who does the equipping and makes the call. He’s the one who takes your abilities and your messy, busy life and turns it into something beautiful for His mission.”