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  • Jun12Tue

    Back to Her Roots

    Linda Leigh always knew she would go back to The Salvation Army. June 12, 2018 by Ken Ramstead
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    “In my heart, I never stopped being a Salvationist,” says Linda Leigh, who attends Oshawa Temple
    “In my heart, I never stopped being a Salvationist,” says Linda Leigh, who attends Oshawa Temple
    Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d wind up as a recruiting sergeant,” laughs Linda Leigh, who attends Oshawa Temple in Ontario. “And yet here I am, teaching soldiership classes.” She wouldn’t have it any other way.

    “I have a better appreciation of becoming a soldier my second time around,” she continues. “It’s opened my eyes to the depth of commitment involved.”

    A Need to Serve

    Linda was born into a Salvationist family. When she was 10, her parents felt called to full-time ministry, so the family headed to the training college in Toronto. As with most officer families, they were sent to various postings across Canada.

    Linda was 14 and very involved in the Army when she became a soldier. “I’d go to band practice, songster practice. I helped lead the youth group. I was out four evenings a week.

    “I’d been in the Army all my life,” she says. “Back then, I don’t remember thinking too deeply about my commitment, if I’m being honest. I just knew that it was an organization I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to serve.”

    Away From the Army

    But when Linda was 40, she met a man named Steve. The couple soon fell in love and decided to get married. But there was one hitch.

    “Steve attended another church,” Linda explains, “so we had to decide where we would worship. At the time, it seemed easier for me go to Steve’s church. Being an Army kid, I was used to moving around. And let’s face it: The Salvation Army can be bewildering for a newcomer, what with our terminology, rules and uniforms.”

    Linda attended Steve’s church for 15 years.

    “It was a healthy stay,” she says, “but the Army was always in me. And I was able to bring some ‘Army’ to the church. For instance, they didn’t know how to clap during worship. I showed them how. I still played trombone, and I was often asked to accompany hymns on special occasions. Plus, I led their choir for six years and I taught them some Army songs!”

    “That’s My Roots”

    Linda always knew that one day she would return to the Army.

    The opportunity came soon after both of Steve’s parents passed away, and their church went through a leadership change.

    By this point, Steve had become more familiar with the Army through Linda’s family, her work colleagues at territorial headquarters and attending Army services and concerts.

    “Steve had asked his share of questions over the years,” smiles Linda, “so he had a good knowledge of what the Army was all about. The timing was good for him, too.

    “In my heart, I never stopped being a Salvationist,” says Linda. “I’d always said to Steve, ‘I really want to go back to the Army, that’s my roots.’ And he wasn’t opposed to that.”

    In Good Hands

    The couple started looking at Salvation Army churches to attend, and when they arrived at Oshawa Temple, they knew they were home.

    “One of the things that attracted us were the greeters at the door, who made us feel so welcome,” says Linda. “We felt as if we were part of one big family.”

    Linda also reconnected with friends from her younger days who attended the corps.

    “What do you think about Oshawa Temple?” Linda asked Steve one day.

    “Let’s go back,” was all he needed to say.

    At first, Linda and Steve were simply content to sit in the congregation, but after six months, they realized that it was time for them to step up. Linda joined the band and Steve became a part of the worship team.

    They met with the then corps officer, Major Robert Reid, who proposed that Linda be reinstated as a soldier while Steve became an adherent.

    A year later, Steve took the soldiership classes. “Steve was my first recruit!” Linda beams. Later, she was asked to be the recruiting sergeant for the corps. Participants range from teens to seniors.

    Linda is impressed by the quality of the new soldiers-to-be.

    “Becoming a soldier is a big ask,” she believes. “The participants are very serious about what they put their names to. They’re thinking about it, which is a good thing. If the people I mentor are any indication, the future of the Army is in good hands."

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