Celebrating 140 years in Michigan

by Merri Bennett

Attending the plaque unveiling ceremony (l to r): Grand Valley Area Commander Major Tim Meyer, Great Lakes Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Steve Merritt, Territorial Commander Commissioner Evie Diaz, and Great Lakes Divisional Leader for Officer Development Lt. Colonel Christine Merritt

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of The Salvation Army beginning its work in Michigan, the Army recently cleaned and refurbished a plaque memorializing the site in Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids.

At the unveiling ceremony, the Grand Rapids Fulton Heights Citadel Band played “Onward Christian Soldiers,” before Major Tim Meyer, Grand Valley area commander, read a brief historical account. It all started with Mr. James Lowe, a Christian businessman in Grand Rapids who came across a War Cry magazine while vacationing in Canada. After reading its contents he was convinced The Salvation Army was needed in his hometown.

Following the plaque unveiling, the Grand Rapids Advisory Board held a William Booth Society (WBS) luncheon to thank annual donors of $5,000 or more. The event was emceed by well-known local TV news anchor and meteorologist Terri DeBoer, who shared how The Salvation Army helped her family when she was a child after a flood.

TV news anchor and meteorologist Terri DeBoer speaks at the luncheon.

Advisory Board member and chair of the WBS Committee, Dr. Ray Vander Weele, was joined by Major Tim to thank WBS members for their commitment and generosity.

“It takes a special type of person to give selflessly. William Booth was that kind of person, as are all of you here today,” said Dr. Vander Weele. “You are a blessing to the mission of The Salvation Army, and your support impacts the lives of thousands of children, families and seniors here in Kent County every year.”

Members received a WBS pin and certificate and two books authored and autographed by DeBoer.

Today, in addition to a Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center and the Fulton Heights Citadel Corps, there is also an adult rehabilitation center and a Harbor Light Center, plus comprehensive centralized social services, including the Pathway of Hope initiative, for Kent County, emergency disaster services including a SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) hub, and Little Pine Island Retreat Center which is available for rentals including church camps and educational / corporate training.

Members of the Grand Rapids Citadel #1 Corps in 1895




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