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Tracy Frank, Published December 25 2012

Fargo Salvation Army leader finds calling in serving others

FARGO – Ann Mealy never imagined she would one day be a leader in the Salvation Army.

“I grew up thinking I wasn’t good enough to do a whole lot,” she said. “God has shown me he can do a lot with nothing.”

She has served as an officer for 13 years and was named corps administrator of The Salvation Army in Fargo three years ago. She and her husband, William, are co-captains.

“God has a plan and purpose and we don’t always know what that is,” Mealy said. “For those who think that God’s not listening, God’s not there, God doesn’t care, that’s so not true because he’s got us in the palm of his hand and it’s just for us to listen and to accept and to follow him because he can do great things.”

Mealy is originally from Austin, Minn., and attended The Salvation Army there as a teenager.

She and her husband attended several churches as adults but didn’t find a home congregation until her oldest son attended vacation bible school at The Salvation Army when he was 9. Mealy and her husband found it to be a warm, accepting place, she said.

Not long after they started attending services, both Ann and William started working there. She became a case manager, and he worked in the thrift store, Mealy said.

They became Sunday school teachers and youth leaders within six months, and within two years they were accepted into the Salvation Army seminary, Mealy said.

Salvation Army officers are ordained ministers. Officers may be single or married, but if they are married, both husband and wife must undertake the same training to be ordained and commissioned as captains, according to the organization’s website.

“When you’re a married couple, you both have to be on the same page, otherwise it would be a very difficult ministry to be called to because of the diversity that goes on and the needs that The Salvation Army has,” Mealy said.

Ann and William take on different roles, and their diverse talents and gifts complement each other, she said. Ann works on more of the administrative tasks and William is better at staff management and public relations, she said. They take turns preaching.

“God really uses our gifts and talents where he needs them,” Ann said. “I can’t imagine having that load just on my shoulders to try to do it all because it’s quite demanding.”

After training, their first appointment as co-captains was in Mankato, Minn., where they served for nine years before moving to Fargo.

Mealy said it’s been a great experience so far because the community is very welcoming and generous.

This time of year Mealy’s duties include tasks like working on the angel tree program, which gives gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated.

She also schedules nursing home visitss every spring and winter, coordinates special events, works on Bible studies and youth activities in the evenings, and plans children’s programs and the Sunday bulletin.

“A normal day could be anything from 7 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night,” Mealy said. “It’s something different every day.”

Mealy said she likes helping people and has thoroughly enjoyed being an officer.

“It feels good at the end of the day knowing you did something meaningful for someone else,” she said.

Mealy and her husband have three children, ages 21 through 28, and seven grandchildren ages 1 through 10.

Their family is involved in the ministry as well by doing things like bell-ringing, collecting toys and clothes for children, and helping wrap gifts, Mealy said.

“You always hope your kids pick up the good stuff in life and I really feel like mine have done that,” she said. “They have big hearts. They love the Lord and they do what they can to help others and that makes me feel good as a mom.”

Mealy said she wasted a lot of her life as a young adult, but her heart has never been so full since she was saved and started serving God.

“I was 30 before I rededicated my life,” she said. “God has molded and made me into the person that I am so I can help people who’ve been on the other side of the fence.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526