“After I left Bible school and before I came to The Salvation Army, I worked at Tim Hortons,” smiles Ken Green, who, with his wife, Mary, are soldiers at Nipawin Corps in Saskatchewan. “A woman once told me that I had a bigger mission field behind the counter there than at any church. That may be true in customers served, but I’m making more of an impact at The Salvation Army helping, serving and disciplining others.”
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Ken was a professional baker and bakery manager for a grocery chain. Transferred to Thompson, Man., in 1985, he met Mary, who worked for a local mission, and they were married in 1994.
In 2007, Ken was called to attend an independent Bible school and Mary started work at the Salvation Army thrift store in Nipawin.
Both churchgoers, they visited a Salvation Army corps each year as part of a Holy Week celebration. As part of the Bible School’s student ministry, they were introduced to the corps officers at the time, Captains Michael and Susan Ramsay, as well as some of the congregation. Ken started helping out with the Army’s youth program, with Mary’s assistance, and the couple liked what they saw.
“Later, our new corps officer, Major Mike Hoeft, asked me if I would like to manage the thrift store and become involved in ministry,” says Ken. Soon, he was assisting with the Sunday evening services at the corps. With Mary working at the thrift store, the two were happily putting down roots with the Army.
“We’d been attending another church but we enjoyed the fellowship at the Army,” says Ken. “Many of the people attending the services either volunteered at the thrift store or were regular customers, so we already knew them.
“But Mary and I are doers and we believe that if you’re going to do something, you do it right.”
It seemed only natural that they become soldiers.
“When you become a soldier,” explains Ken, “you’re saying you agree with what’s happening with the church and you want to be a part of it. You’re making an outward gesture of an inward commitment, and that is very special.”
“Ken and I had always wanted to minister together and we’ve achieved our goal at the Army,” Mary adds. “I identify with them and now that I am a soldier, I feel even more connected, and not just somebody who is helping out. I am a part of the Army.”
“Since coming to Nipawin, Ken and Mary have done a remarkable job and have been the movers and shakers in the transformation of the corps,” says Major Hoeft, area commander, Prairie Division.
Once they became soldiers, Ken and Mary threw themselves into that task. Sunday church attendance had dwindled but attendance for the Alpha course Ken was leading on Monday nights had grown.
Major Hoeft had the idea to have a service on Monday nights, and attendance skyrocketed. “We’re getting clients from the thrift store, a lot of non-Christians or un-churched people and nominal church people, too,” says Ken. “They find a welcoming atmosphere.
“We have a special holiday format,” he goes on to say, “where instead of having a regular dinner, we have a potluck followed by a Christian movie. Captain Rick Robins, our current corps officer, calls it ‘Messy Church,’ and that’s what it is. The format can change at any time, but it’s a relaxed atmosphere and people enjoy coming.”
They have also instituted a Bible study on Thursday nights, where the doctrines of The Salvation Army are examined and explained.
“Our goal is to have these people develop their own roots in the Army, as we did,” explains Ken. “And maybe one day, they will become soldiers, too. God’s opened the door to us to minister here, and we want to give others the same opportunity.”