SHERIDAN — For more than three years, David and Geraldine Leonard have led the operations of Sheridan’s Salvation Army. In mid-June, the couple will transfer to a new community in Pine Bluff, Ark.
The Salvation Army’s local services will remain unaffected during the transition and will continue normal operations. In fact, Capt. David Leonard said leadership in The Salvation Army often changes when skills and talents of a captain or commanding officer are needed.
“The Salvation Army will move officers from appointment to appointment as they see a need,” he explained. “If they think an officer or officer couple has a certain skill set that is needed in another place they will transfer them there. We were requested by the leadership of the (Salvation Army’s) Southern Territory to Pine Bluff (Ark.). It was a pleasant surprise. We will be much closer to family, but we definitely were not expecting it.”
While the service area of Sheridan is approximately 15,000, the Leonard’s new base of operation in Pine Bluff will serve a population of approximately 150,000. This larger community will bring the Leonards significantly more responsibility. Leonard said in addition to operation of a thrift store and providing of social services, the Leonards will oversee a seven-day-a-week food service, a transitional living facility for the homeless and a men’s, women’s and children’s shelter.
In addition to daily services, the Leonards lead The Salvation Army church in the community they serve. They will see their congregation grow to 70 in Pine Bluff versus the 15 or so members in Sheridan.
“I primarily preach simply because my wife knows I love to do it so she allows me that,” Leonard said. “When I am not present my wife takes over the pulpit and she is very capable in that area.”
A new husband-wife team will be arriving in Sheridan July 7 to assume responsibilities of Sheridan services. The couple, Donald and Kimberly Warriner, are transferring to Sheridan from Juneau, Alaska, and the Leonards have been in contact with the Warriners to prepare them for their new role in Sheridan.
The Leonards last Sunday service will be June 16 at 11 a.m. A potluck dinner will be held afterward at approximately noon for parishioners and anyone else who wishes to say goodbye to the Leonards.
“I’d like to thank the people of Sheridan,” Leonard said. “Ministry is always a challenging prospect. The apostle Paul said he tried to be all things to all people and that is really hard. We know that we’ve not been able to help everybody we’ve wanted to help.
“But those we have, have been so gracious and have let us know through personal notes and one time I was stopped by a lady in Walmart that said she appreciated what we had done for her and her family. We are very thankful for how supportive they’ve (Sheridan residents) been of The Salvation Army and hope they will continue that goodwill and practice as the new officers come here.”