The Salvation Army introduced its new officers in charge of the Danville post to the community with a “meet and greet” Monday for Jason and Bethany Burns.
Police Chief Tony Gray and Assistant Chief Tom Bustle along with Lancaster Mayor Brenda Powers and Danville Chamber of Commerce President Paula Fowler were among the many who dropped in at 519 S. Fourth St. to shake the couple’s hands and offer a word of welcome and a promise of support.
Sunday service at the church this week was the first here for the couple, who are both lieutenants in the Salvation Army, and their three children, Conner, 10, Abigail, 7, and the baby of the family, Bailey, who is 3.
“Oh, don’t call her a baby in front of her,” Bethany said, laughing about the nature of kids at that age. “She thinks she is a big girl.”
The couple arrived last week from their prior post in Memphis, where they served for four years. They replace Capt. Sarah Nelson and her husband Lt. Dan Nelson, who served the Danville Army for four years and have transferred to Florida.
Although new in town, the Burns family already is settling in. Conner, a soccer enthusiast, was attending soccer camp at Centre College, and Abigail, according to her mother, had provided positive feedback about the day camp there. “Especially the cooking lessons,” Bethany said.
According to Bethany, anyone can go into the two-year training to become an officer in the corps but only those who marry other officers can remain officers.
She and Jason are first generation officers in a avocation that often spans generations. They trained as officers together as a married couple and so share the same rank, if not the same duties. Both will advance to captain in about a year.
What exactly is their job here?
“To preach, first,” Jason said. “To teach, provide social services, provide the initial screenings for the Hope Clinic here that serves six counties. Help those with needs for utilities and rent and run the programs throughout the community center, the thrift operations.”
Secretary Dana Long said the canteen, a mobile vehicle for food and such, had just returned from western Kentucky where it had deployed following the devastating tornados there early this spring.
“We can deploy a unit to a disaster in an hour,” Jason said.
The Burns family had about seven-weeks’ notice of their new duty station. The Salvation Army owns the homes of its officers so can reassign officers with a fair amount of ease.
“They are really good about picking personalities to follow the officers they are replacing,” Bethany said.
The Nelsons left a brief behind — 60 pages — just as the Burnses left for their replacements in Memphis designed to cover any topic likely needed to smooth the transition.
The Burnses brought their own set of goals.
“Our goal is to see what the community is and what their needs are and then, be that,” Jason said.
“Like our mission statement for The Salvation Army says, to the community. To meet needs and ‘do the most good.’”