New Salvation Army officers are husband-wife teamSalvation Army Majors William and Elizabeth Cox have taken a long and winding path through Michigan, Illinois and Indiana to arrive in Duluth as the newest heads of the local Salvation Army Corps.
Salvation Army Majors William and Elizabeth Cox have taken a long and winding path through Michigan, Illinois and Indiana to arrive in Duluth as the newest heads of the local Salvation Army Corps.
Bill and Betsy, a married couple with 25 years of experience with the Salvation Army, were introduced to the Duluth community as part of the organization’s annual Advisory Board Retreat in late September.
The couple have worked with the Advisory Board and the Corps Council since moving to Duluth in June. They are formulating a strategic plan for the organization, including goals and visions for the community.
“As officers, we are like a team,” Bill said. “If there’s been success in our ministry, it’s because God has blessed us, and he has used our gifts. When we put our gifts and strong points together, we complement one another.”
The couple’s interest in ministry and the Salvation Army began while they were involved with the Nazarene Seminary in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Feeling they didn’t belong in that denomination, Bill and Betsy decided to attend seminary school for two years at the Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training in Chicago.
“We felt God leading us into full-time ministry, and we were really being drawn into the Salvation Army because Betsy has a rich family history in the organization,” Bill said. “We got involved with their work, and I fell in love with the number of people that the Salvation Army reaches. It was just important for us to put our faith into action.”
After both were ordained, the couple joined the Salvation Army and were eventually called to Ludington, Mich., a small community on Lake Michigan. Bill and Betsy view that time as a period of learning what it takes to be a minister.
“I didn’t have any background outside what I learned at the Nazarene Church,” Bill said. “So the first few appointments were like a training ground.”
They took several one-year appointments early in their ministry in Elgin, Ill., and the Chicago area. Afterward, Bill and Betsy decided to take a break from the Salvation Army and move back to their home in Sault Ste. Marie.
For 11 years, the couple lived in Michigan and for six of those years they ran their own non-denominational church, the Rosedale Community Church. Bill also gained experience in accounting working for two business firms.
“When we decided to get back into the Salvation Army, they gave us the Sault Ste. Marie Corps,” Betsy said. “It was nice, because we had family there and did a lot of weddings and funerals with them.”
But the couple felt they were being called again, this time to Battle Creek, Mich.
“Most of the moves happened because we were asked to do the appointments,” Bill said. “It does take sacrifice to do what you are asked to do.”
“Our children are very understanding of being moved,” Betsy said. Two of their seven children still live at home. “Bill has always shown them to look at it as an adventure in a new place with new people.”
After four years in Battle Creek, Bill and Betsy moved to Albany, Ind., to undertake ministry there for a year. The last stop before Duluth was a 10-year stint in Escanaba, Mich.
“Our number one mission is the Lord, and number two is our family,” Bill said. “Number three is finding where our fit was, and this fits perfectly for us. This is the first appointment where we aren’t running at 60 miles an hour because of the large staff. That frees us up to do more work with evangelism.”
As officers, the couple is in charge of worship services on Sunday mornings as well as Sunday school and Bible studies. To create more outreach in the community, they have worked with senior citizen programs and child character-building programs.
“We do more than just handing things out. We represent the poor, the broken and the needy,” Bill said. “Our purpose as officers is to oversee the work and make sure it stays true to our mission. We thoroughly enjoy what we are doing.”
Bill and Betsy’s rank as major with the Salvation Army represents years of service and responsibility. They were lieutenants for five years and captains for 10 years, and the two have been majors for 10 years.
“Bill has a heart for collaborating with other churches, organizations and businesses, and Betsy has a tremendous mentoring heart,” said Gordy Mesedahl, director of development at the Duluth Area Salvation Army. “I am grateful that they are both here.”
When not involved with work, the couple enjoy spending time with their children, their four grandchildren and their nephew. Betsy enjoys quilting and canning, and Bill likes to read and run.
When it comes to the future of the Duluth Area Salvation Army, Bill and Betsy have faith in their ability to make a difference.