By Leah Sander
WARSAW — The Salvation Army’s mission is twofold.
That’s according to the Divisional Commander for the Indiana Division of The Salvation Army Major Marc Johnson.
“Our international mission statement, the last sentence says, its mission … is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His Name without discrimination,” said Johnson.
The Salvation Army has been doing that for 100 years in Kosciusko County.
That anniversary was marked with an open house on Thursday, Oct. 7, at The Salvation Army’s Worship and Community Center, 501 E. Arthur St., Warsaw. Johnson and his wife, Major Karen Johnson, were present for the occasion.
The event included a Business After Hours gathering hosted by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.
Leading The Salvation Army in Warsaw are Corps Administrators Envoys Ken and Sina Locke.
“I think … for any organization to last 100 years is amazing,” said Ken Locke. “This community’s been so supportive of The Salvation Army. It would not be here for 100 years if it wasn’t for Warsaw and Kosciusko County, so that’s kind of what this open house is about, is just to thank people for giving us this opportunity to serve in this community.”
The Salvation Army started in the county in February 1921. Ken Locke said Thursday’s open house was one of several events to mark the anniversary. He said the open house was moved to the fall because of previous COVID-19 conditions.
Though people may think of bell ringing around Christmas when they think of the group, The Salvation Army has many facets.
Worship services are held at the Worship and Community Center at 11 a.m. on Sundays, and The Salvation Army also serves the community through various social services, including a food pantry.
“Mainly we just try to meet people’s needs, especially if they’re in a crisis situation, so that would be the biggest thing,” said Ken Locke. “We serve usually right around 5,000 people in the county in one way or another (in a year), that’s whether it’s Christmas, whatever.”
He said plans are to get back to normal operations as COVID-19 has altered them.
“But now we’re trying to go back to some of those things like our one program Pathway of Hope where we’re working with … families trying to get them out of poverty, we really want to focus on that again, focus on maybe some things for at-risk kids and those kinds of things,” he said.
Marc Johnson emphasized that the services The Salvation Army provides are for everyone, citing three words from the above mission statement.
“And the first two words that are important to do that are the last two ‘without discrimination,'” he said. “If you’re a human and you have a need, we want to try to help that, not that we can meet every need, but we really try to make sure that we’re trying to touch people’s lives. And the third word that is important is a word that’s often overlooked in the English language. It’s that little word ‘and,’ a conjunction. … That word means both. So if we only preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and never meet human need … if we only meet human needs and never connect anyone to Jesus Christ as our Savior, we’re not The Salvation Army. And we do all of that without discrimination in a way that says we’re here to help you because that’s really what we see Jesus did in the Bible.”
He said the 100 years The Salvation Army’s been in Kosciusko County is “significant because there are a lot of lives that have been touched down through the years.”
“I’ve been talking to some of the members of our congregation here that say ‘I’ve been in this church for 60 years, 70 years,’ and the influence that has on a life, the transforming power of the Gospel, doesn’t change one person, it changes every one that person comes into contact with,” he said. “So to have an influence like this and many other very positive influences in the city of Warsaw is what I think builds the fabric of the community together and makes us stronger as human beings, the way God created us.”
To learn more about The Salvation Army in Warsaw and volunteer opportunities, go to the group’s website.