Jacky attended a Salvation Army Sunday School when she was younger.
Jacky recalls: ‘Mum had 10 children and wanted an hour’s peace at the weekend so six or seven of us would march off to Sunday school!'
Away from church for 18 years, Jacky felt God was calling her to attend a Salvation Army corps (church). But it wasn't until He opened a corps in Stoke Newington – the previous one had closed many years ago – that she decided to attend. Jacky said: 'I remember praying to God: "If you want me in The Salvation Army, you can open a corps in Stoke Newington." '
Unknown to Jacky, as she prayed for the corps to open, the ministers at Clapton Corps were praying for guidance about a decision because they believed there should be a corps in Stoke Newington. They recognised that The Salvation Army’s founders were buried in the town's Abney Park Cemetery and felt it would be fitting to have a church there. The ministers opened a cafe and charity shop where they could start meeting the community and build a small Salvation Army expression.
Jacky recalls: 'When I walked into the cafe at Stoke Newington I felt so welcomed. The atmosphere was brilliant – you were part of it and people were so friendly. Even now, everyone feels like family.'
The relaxed setting was ideal for Jacky, who said: ‘The meetings were so inclusive – there were no set patterns, and the activities made church fun! The last corps I attended had an elderly congregation, but a range of ages and walks of life were represented at Stoke Newington.’
Jacky’s return to church brought about growth in her faith in God – it also led her to the decision to become a Salvation Army soldier.
Jacky concludes: ‘I felt soldiership was the option for me – and I was happier in my life because I felt I was making the right choice. People have noticed a change in me – I’ve been told: "You’re so much more alive these days."
‘I was enrolled as a soldier in the charity shop at Stoke Newington on the same day my son Matthew was welcomed as an adherent member.’
Read Matthew’s story and find out more about adherent membership, which is a voluntary personal commitment from a personal spiritual experience.