Today, I’m featuring another member from the first National Committee of Australian Church Women (ACW) – Lieut-Colonel Hazel Violet Cross, the first National Secretary of ACW. Recently, the immediate past Secretary of the NSW Unit of ACW forwarded a folder containing the profiles of their past presidents, and Hazel Cross was included. Combining this new information on Hazel, along with other related material in our national archives, allows me to honour her contribution to our early ACW herstory.
Hazel was born more than one hundred years ago on 30 September 1904 to Salvation Army officer parents. Her parents were stationed in Perth, WA, in the early years of The Salvation Army in Australia when the Australian work was only 23 years young, having officially commenced in 1881, in Adelaide.
‘Lieut-Colonel Hazel Cross was nurtured in the faith, making her own personal faith commitment at the age of twelve years.’ Prior to entering The Salvation Army Training College at Petersham, in 1927, to pursue her calling to full-time ministry, Hazel worked as a bookkeeper in the finance department of The Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters, then situated in Goulburn Street, Sydney.
As a commissioned officer of The Salvation Army, Hazel had a number of corps and divisional appointments and distinguished herself as a Training College officer, a work which encompassed 17 years of her officership. During her time at the College, she would have had direct influence on the lives of almost 1,000 cadets. In connection with her work as a training college officer, she attended the International Training Council in London in 1951.
Hazel’s final appointment before retirement was to women’s ministries as Territorial Home League Secretary, a position she held for six years and which gave her administrative responsibility for the Home League (women’s fellowship groups) in NSW, Queensland, New Guinea and the ACT. During this time, she introduced a women’s leadership training course designed to give opportunity to Home League members to develop leadership abilities in Christian service. In little more than three years near to 300 women had undertaken this six-month course.
It was during her final appointment that Hazel became a Salvation Army representative on the then New South Wales Women’s Inter-Church Council from 1960, and their State President from 1964 to 65. Hazel served ACW tirelessly in its formative years and, in February 1965, she was elected as the first Secretary of the National Committee of Australian Church Women.
Hazel retired from active officership in September 1965, but she was to know just a little under four years of retirement. During retirement, she wrote and taught a series of Bible studies specifically for women officers serving in the social services of The Salvation Army.
Hazel was ‘promoted to glory’ on 10 July 1969 at Arncliffe in NSW. At her funeral, her colleague and friend Lieut-Colonel Jean Coleman, also of ACW, paid tribute to her as a person who ‘had the qualities of a warm, affectionate personality, [and] was dignified, loyal and accomplished’.
At the 1970 ACW National Conference, Head Deaconess Mary Andrews put forward a minute of appreciation to honour the life and service of Lieut-Colonel Hazel Cross:
‘Lt. Colonel Cross was a foundation member of the first National Committee of Australian Church Women and became its first Secretary.
‘To this position, Colonel Cross brought a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience from her work as a Salvation Army Officer. Among other positions she held was the head of the Salvation Army Eastern Command Home League, which involved a great deal of administration work.
‘Colonel Cross was a Salvation Army representative on the Women’s Inter-Church Council and was also the President for one year. She was made a life member of the N.S.W.W.I.C.C. in recognition of her services.
‘As the Secretary of the Working Committee and National Committee of A.C.W., Colonel Cross vas a woman of vision — she was able to see the ways and means of furthering the cause of A.C.W.
‘She was a Secretary with a spirit of venture — ready to launch out into new forms of witness and service. Colonel Cross was also a woman of great vitality who never let the spiritual glow grow dim.
‘We thank God for every remembrance of one who adorned the gospel of Christ and has left behind the sweet fragrance of a dedicated Christian.’
A memorial fund, subscribed to by many who benefited from her wise counsel and guidance, provided an annual gift of books to the library of The Salvation Army Officer Training College in Sydney.