New Salvation Army officers come with open minds, hearts

KATE YORK The Marietta Times Lt. Megan Moretz speaks from the pulpit in the Salvation Army chapel at 136 Front St.

The latest leaders of the Salvation Army in Marietta may be new to the community but their roots in the service organization are strong.

Lieutenants Elisha and Megan Moretz began their assignment in Marietta just over three weeks ago and have been busy meeting residents and familiarizing themselves with community needs. The couple and their 1-year-old daughter, Alison, moved from Georgetown, Ky.

“That was our first assignment and it will always hold a special place in our hearts,” said Megan. “But what keeps us going most is knowing that God is faithful. It’s the same God in Kentucky as in Marietta. We’re happy to be here.”

The new officers first met at a Salvation Army camp in New Jersey. Megan’s parents had been officers in the organization.

“Over the years, I tried a few different things and always came back to my roots,” she said. “I was born into the Salvation Army.”

Elisha was also tied to the Salvation Army from an early age. His parents were soldiers, or members of the congregation, and his grandparents were officers.

“I don’t think I could be happy doing anything else,” he said.

The officers are taking over for Capt. Aaron Moore and his wife, Wanessa, who held the post for four years before moving to Lancaster last month. They said their immediate plans at the 136 Front St. site include building updates that need to take place before more programming can be offered.

“We want the building to be in the best shape it can be,” said Elisha. “It needs to be a safe place where children and vulnerable adults in the community can come in.”

Beyond the facility concerns? Well, their ears are open.

“We think it’s important to meet the needs of individual communities, not just start something for the sake of starting something,” said Megan.

“Rather than coming in and saying ‘here’s what we’re going to offer,’ we want to ask ‘What do you need and how can we help?” Elisha added.

The couple stressed the open doors of the chapel and the office.

“We want people to know this is a safe place to come as you are,” said Megan.

“It’s not a place of judgment, it’s a place where your needs can be met and you can be cared for,” said Elisha.

Within the first few hours of their arrival, the couple had a chance to practice those sentiments, as a local man came in.

“He was fairly broken down and he said ‘You probably can’t do anything for me but I just need someone to talk to for half an hour,'” said Elisha. “When you walk through the doors, we’re here to do what we can to help–and that extends to the people who never walk through the doors, too. We’re here to serve the whole community, not just the people who come into the building.”

The new officers will continue the Salvation Army clothing closet, open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, the food pantry, open Monday through Friday, and services in the chapel. Sunday School begins at 9:45 a.m. with worship at 11 a.m. They also plan to put a strong emphasis on ministry to children.

While they’ve already begun reaching out to other area organizations, the general public will also have a chance to chat with the lieutenants during events this weekend. At 4 p.m. Saturday will be a gospel illusions show.

“It’s like a magic show,” said Elisha. “It’s really something to see.”

The family will also be selling hot dogs and water during the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival this weekend.

“That’s something that’s been done here traditionally,” said Megan. “We’re really excited to do that, and we’re excited to be here.”

Lt. Elisha Moretz

• Age: 28.

• Hometown: Milford, Pa.

• Education: Completed Salvation Army College for Officer Training in New York; pursuing bachelors degree in ministerial management from Asbury University.

Lt. Megan Moretz

• Age: 29.

• Hometown: Toronto, Canada.

• Education: Completed Salvation Army College for Officer Training in New York; Bachelors degree in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies from the University of Toronto; pursuing a masters degree in pastoral counseling from Asbury University.