Inspiring Stories Major Diane Harper

Mar 26, 2021 | by Haley Lysinger

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we’re sharing stories of how women wearing The Salvation Army uniform inspire other women to make history every day.

She broke barriers and made history while inspiring new officers who followed her in The Salvation Army. Major Diane Harper and her husband, Stephen, were the first African-Americans to serve at the Central Territorial Headquarters (THQ) in Chicago. Even in retirement, Major Diane remains loyal and steadfast to The Salvation Army’s mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

During her role as the cross-cultural ministries’ director, she initiated the inaugural African-American Council of War at the 1995 Central Territory Congress. The goal was to bring light to all the contributions the African-American leaders have done to represent the mission. This resulted in the success of reminding those of the mission of His salvation and freedom for all regardless of race.

“She has a genuine love and care for others that is shown through her relationship with God,” said Major Janice Love, Officer at the Eastside corps in Kansas City, Mo. “She has the ability to share the tough stuff with a kind of thoughtfulness that wouldn’t hurt your feelings.”

Major Diane was first introduced to The Salvation Army mission at a young age when attending youth programs at the Euclid corps in St. Louis. To appease her mother, she continued attending the local Baptist church despite enjoying her time at The Salvation Army. During her time in college, she followed God’s calling and left for the College for Officers Training and was commissioned in 1974.

After marrying her husband, they received their first appointment as corps officers in the Midland Division until 1983. After multiple appointments throughout their careers, they received recognition for their leadership skills and were appointed to THQ where they became the first African-American officers to serve and represent many different roles during their time.

After 41 years of serving The Army, Major Diane retired but continues to spread the mission of The Salvation Army and live a life that reflects that of Christ.

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