SIDNEY — “Your downtown is absolutely beautiful.”
That’s the first impression Lts. Chastity and Joseph Hansen had of Sidney when they arrived last week to take the reins of the local Salvation Army.
The couple and their four children, Hannah, 12, Caitlynn, 10, Jaedlyn, 8, and Madelyn, 1, moved from Georgetown, Kentucky, where Chastity and Joe had served as pastors/administrators for three years.
The Sidney post is their second assignment as Salvation Army officers.
“In order to be an officer, which is a pastor/administrator, you have to complete a two-year training at the Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Suffern, New York,” Joseph said. Officers are ordained ministers of the gospel. The first five years after graduation, officers serve as lieutenants. After another 10 years, they are promoted to captains. Ten years after that, they become majors.
Before the Hansens attended the officers’ college, they had served as lay youth pastors at the Salvation Army in Van Wert.
Chastity, a native of Watertown, New York, has a deep family history of involvement with the church. Her parents were Salvation Army officers and an aunt and uncle pastored the post in Piqua.
“My girls are fourth-generation Salvationists,” she said.
Joe began to attend the church when he was a freshman college student at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. That’s where he and Chastity met. He graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in exercise science; she, in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian ministry and missions.
As Salvation Army officers, they go where and when the church sends them.
“We’re hoping for a good long time here,” Chastity said.
“What’s impressed me is the collaboration already in place among agencies like the United Way, the YMCA, the Center for Counseling and such. Those relationships don’t always exist,” Joe said.
In Sidney, the Hansens have a written brief left by the former pastors and the help of the organization’s advisory board to discover what programs are in place and how the post operates.
“It’s still up to us to figure things out,” Joseph said. “The Paynes (who preceded the Hansens in the job) and the advisory board have done a good job of getting businesses involved in the operation of the Salvation Army, collaborating on the social service side. Growing the church will be our challenge. We’re not just a social service organization. We’re a church. Social service is the face, but church is the heart.”
Chastity is especially proud of the relationships they were able to establish for the church in Georgetown that made the Salvation Army more visible there. Here, she’s looking forward to being a part of the community, to “have the community know what we do and become engaged with us in what we do,” she said. She extended an invitation to area residents to “come by any time. Take a tour. Talk to us.”
The couple hopes to increase church programming directed at children as well as to build church attendance. People who attend Salvation Army services find a deep sense of community, Chastity said.
“No matter who you are or where you come from, you belong. When people come here, they know that they’re loved,” she added.
Church services are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Sunday school meets at 9:30 a.m. For information, call 492-8412.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.