Celebrating National Salvation Army Week

Clarksville captains found new calling in officership

Mark and Sally Love are captains at the Clarksville Salvation Army. Ministry is their second career, which began after Mark quit his job to enroll at Asbury Theological Seminary. It was while he was pastoring a different church that God called them to join The Salvation Army.

Captains Mark and Sally Love came to The Salvation Army as a way to minister together.

Before this calling, Sally was the director of physical therapy at a hospital in Lexington, KY, and Mark was the technical director at a large manufacturing company in a nearby town. They were both active in their church’s leadership and were seeking to grow in their Christian life.

“As we put God in the center of our lives, he had something bigger and better for us,” Mark said.

He was the first to be called to ministry. In 2000, he quit his job and began attending Asbury Theological Seminary. Leading up to that, he’d already been teaching and discipling people, so Sally suggested he go take a tour of Asbury and see what God told him.

“No sooner than I walked on campus, God spoke to me and said, ‘This is what I have for you to do,'” he said. “It seems kind of like a big decision, but it was coming for a number of years. ”

He attended seminary for three years, then took an appointment in the Free Methodist Church. That moved them from Lexington to Lincoln, Nebraska, where they spent a few years until God presented another opportunity to them.

“In 2007, God was calling us to come back home,” Mark said. “We planted a new church in Lexington in 2008.”

It was during the time they planted the church that Sally began embracing her call to ministry. Mark said they didn’t have much money at the time, so during the week, while he worked full-time as a pastor, she worked full time in the corporate world, and then they both worked full time in ministry on the weekend.

“We prayed to God, ‘How would you answer this, so we both will be working together?'” he said.

They got the answer unexpectedly in the summer of 2009 when some friends from The Salvation Army suggested they consider The Salvation Army because corps are headed by husband-and-wife teams. They decided to think and pray about it and soon felt God calling them to pass the church on to the leadership team in order to look into this opportunity.

The Loves’ first Salvation Army post was in Richmond, KY. Among other things they oversaw there was the canteen ministry.

“Before we knew it, we were at divisional headquarters in Louisville talking to the division commander about a program called auxiliary management,” Mark said. “We became soldiers in The Salvation Army in October 2009, while we were pastoring at the other church. In December, the divisional commander asked if we could move to Johnson City, TN to support an officer couple there as program directors. We got there right during Christmas.”

Six months later, in June 2010, the divisional commander appointed the Loves captains of the Richmond, KY Salvation Army corps, where they were thrown right into the thick of things, Mark said.

“We had to figure it out as we went. We asked a lot of questions to get the support we needed. I felt pretty confident as a pastor, Sally felt pretty confident as an administrator and we had 25 years experience managing people, but we had to learn the Salvation Army way of doing things, which is pretty different some times.”

They were in Richmond for four years before being transferred to Bowling Green. Then, last year, they were transferred to their current post in Clarksville.

For most of the time, the Loves were auxiliary captains, which Mark explains “takes people who are older that have significant life experience to utilize as equivalent to going to officer training school.” In 2015, however, they were commissioned as full captains.

Regardless of how they were titled, the Loves have spent all their time with The Salvation Army living its mission of serving people, which Mark loves most about the job.

“[The Salvation Army] puts the scriptural commands of Jesus about serving your fellow man to use every day; it’s part of who we are as Christians. I’m not saying mainline churches don’t do that, but it’s not as integrated as it is with The Salvation Army. We combine the social services part and the church part.

After Richmond, the Loves went to Bowling Green, KY, home of Western Kentucky University and its mascot, Big Red.

“God has not only called us to Salvation Army ministry, but he changed our hearts to really, truly love the people that come to us every day. We’re forever grateful that God has done this. That’s what being a Salvation Army officer is – you serve others as part of an expression of your love for God.”

Mark said he and his wife look forward to spending many more years working for The Salvation Army. They plan to be involved well past retirement age, which is something he never would have expected when he initially began this journey.

“It’s interesting how God works when he gets your attention,” he said. “When you accept that calling, you trust God for small steps and have the faith. In 2000, if God had told me, ‘You’re going to be a Salvation Army officer,’ I would have thought he was crazy, but looking back, he prepared us for each step. He took a roundabout way to get us here, but this is really the answer to God’s call.”