BEHIND THE BELL – Eleventh Day of Ringing


Observations from 12 Days of Ringing the Kettle Bell for The Salvation Army
My eleventh day of ringing the kettle bell introduced me to my own family’s Salvation Army ties.
While discussing things Christmas, my mother informed me that I wasn’t the first from our family to volunteer for The Salvation Army. I was surprised to learn that my maternal grandmother, Miss Lena Gibbens, was a volunteer for the Macon County Salvation Army in Decatur, Illinois, sometime in the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s.
My grandmother sang and played the tambourine (a regular Hallelujah Lass) on street corners while others shared the gospel through word and tracts, my mother recalled. Shortly thereafter, Lena Gibbens became Mrs. Lena Holmes, and the family moved to Portage, Wisconsin, before settling in my birth city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. My grandmother became an LPN and remained mission-minded during her lifetime and membership in Kalamazoo area churches.
Below is a photo of a woman with a Salvation Army outfit, complete with tambourine, around the same years my grandmother would have sang and played (it is not a photo of my grandmother).

Thank you for your mission-mindedness, even during your youth, Grandma Holmes. I know you would be pleased to know your spirit, His spirit, lives on through the generations.
* * * * *
Being one of the Hallelujah Lads or Lasses didn’t come without cost.
“Said one Chicago police officer in 1888, “They disturb the peace with their drums and tom-toms. They cause teams to break loose on the streets. . . . They drive simple-minded people crazy with their singing and praying and shouting. They are a public nuisance.” Prompted by these criticisms, city officials regularly dispatched police to arrest the Salvationists for disturbing the peace and obstructing the streets as they led open-air services and marched to their hall.”
(From the book, “Hallelujah Lads & Lasses: Remaking the Salvation Army in America, 1880-1930” By Lillian Taiz, p. 90).


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