Kirk and Linda Green are retiring after 22 years with the Salvation Army (SA), and say that if they could, they would do it all over again.
The couple have been majors with the SA in Fernie for five years, and have lived in town for three.
“It’s been lovely,” Kirk said. “We’ve really enjoyed being here in the community.”
Originally hailing from Saskatchewan, their work with the SA has taken the Greens across the world and the nation.
Linda has been on mission trips to the Middle East, they have gone on educational trips to Israel, and Kirk has travelled to work for emergency services, notably going to Texas to help after a hurricane.
“We have had some experiences with the Salvation Army that we would not have had otherwise,” Kirk said.
Aside from being a church, Kirk described the SA as “a reach out into the community.”
“Heart to God, hand to man,” he said, echoing the slogan of the organization.
Other than church services on Sunday, much of the work they’ve done in Fernie has been related to the food bank, food share, Christmas hampers, and thrift store. They also oversaw repairs and renovations to the SA space during their tenure, which they say are done.
Beyond that, they have lent a helping hand for various miscellaneous needs in the community, from medical expenses to utility bills (budget permitting).
“If there’s a need, the Salvation Army’s probably done it,” Kirk said, referring to the organization in general, not just the Fernie branch.
The Greens were first drawn to the SA due to a search and rescue effort for a lost child, Ashley Kristensen, who was their daughter’s best friend at the time.
The search operation in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, drew up to 500 people every day to help, according to Kirk, who was a member of the fire department.
“We searched for 12 days for that little girl. We did not find her.”
The SA’s contribution to the search is what convinced them it was an organization worth joining.
“We just witnessed what the Salvation Army did, and how much they gave, and we wanted to be part of it.”
They joined the SA church in Tisdale following that incident, and were officially ordained six years later, in 2000.
Since then, they been posted in Estevan, Regina, Cranbrook, and Fernie.
“It’s been a great three years to finish off,” Linda said, adding that Fernie is unique.
“It’s different than anything else we’ve ever done… The town has a different flavour to it.”
The Greens had never ministered in a resort community before Fernie, and relished meeting people from all over the world.
They worked in town through COVID, got to experience a CP holiday train in 2019, and have enjoyed doing the local hikes. They’ve also had lots of bear visits to their backyard.
“It’s been a nice experience. We’ve really enjoyed it,” Kirk said.
Linda said “the people have got to be number one.”
The pastors are set to retire on June 30, and will be succeeded by Majors Rick and Jennifer Robins, also from Saskatchewan.
“I think Fernie is going to benefit from having Rick and Jennifer here,” Kirk said.
The Greens will be heading to Cranbrook, where they have family and a retirement home.
“We’re going to try to spend some time with each other, because for 22 years we’ve been very, very busy,” Kirk said.
Linda said, though there have been some hard times, working with the SA was a ‘huge blessing.’
“We would do it again in a heartbeat,” Kirk said.