Tucked away into a bend in the mighty Mississippi River, the small town of Muscatine boasts a rich and charming history. Once home to Samuel Clemens, perhaps better known as Mark Twain, the city of nearly 24,000 has retained its hometown appeal. For Lt. Greg Bock, who hails from a similar Mississippi River town, it’s the perfect fit—almost like coming home.
Appointed fresh out of training last year, Lt. Greg and his wife, Lt. Elizabeth, have worked their way in to the hearts of the Muscatine community with their enthusiasm, ingenuity and passion. They’ve breathed new life into the ministry of The Salvation Army, bringing it to a place of leadership among local service agencies and catching the attention of individuals, donors and the media in the process.
When the Bocks arrived in Muscatine with their three children in June 2019 it was with excitement to see what God had in store. Meeting with corps members, the advisory board and community leaders, they sought to understand the community and its needs as they began planning for their first Christmas campaign.
“The Christmas campaign was our introduction to the community,” Lt. Greg explained. “The goal was to gain visibility and exposure. It wasn’t just about raising money. It was about educating my community about the message, ministry and mission of The Salvation Army.”
To that end, Lt. Greg lived in a giant red kettle positioned outside a popular grocery store during the Christmas campaign, a feat that caught the community’s attention and sparked its interest. He welcomed people to stop by and used those visits to tell them about The Salvation Army. By the end of the season, the Christmas fundraising goal had been surpassed for the first time in many years.
Enabled by their growing reputation as creative thinkers and doers, the Bocks were well-placed to lead collaborations and partnerships with other agencies in order to keep the community fed during COVID-19 layoffs and lockdowns. They spearheaded a community-wide Pandemic Pantry campaign to fill the corps’ and other local food pantries struggling to meet the increasing need. Residents were able to drop off donations of nonperishable food items or money, order food bags from the local grocery stores they could pick up to donate or purchase virtual food bags which the grocery store would pack and deliver to the pantry for them.
Just over a year into their appointment, the Bocks have earned the respect and accolade of a tight-knit community that has shown its appreciation in many ways, including a drive-by parade for Lt. Greg’s birthday and the honor of being recognized as a Pearl of Muscatine—someone who is integral and inspirational to the community.
The lieutenants are well on their way to realizing the vision they have for The Salvation Army’s presence and ministry in Muscatine.
“We want to be a ‘go and serve’ Army rather than a ‘come and see’ church,” said Lt. Greg. “We want to be a missional force for the Kingdom.”