No stranger to the Corp [UPDATED]Published 11:06am Monday, October 24, 2011 Updated 11:12am Monday, October 24, 2011
As a third-generation member of the Salvation Army, Lt. Linda McCormick is no stranger to the challenges of serving the church or the commitment required of her position.
She saw first-hand, through her grandparents who were Brigadiers (a rank that is no longer held), what the Salvation Army was all about. Her father, raised in the Salvation Army and a soldier (member) of the church, decided to raise his five children Lutheran because he knew the life was difficult.
As early as grade school, though, McCormick knew she wanted to serve the Salvation Army. When she accepted Christ as her savior at 14, she was called to serve the church.
“That’s when I started actively bugging my parents to join the Army,” she said. “It’s so different from the Lutheran faith, but there’s always been that call for the Army for me.”
Although she was called to serve, it was a long road to becoming an officer. After graduating from high school, she moved to Illinois to work with her brother in the restaurant business. At the time, she said, money was important to her, a sign that she later realized meant she wasn’t ready to serve.
She took the required classes to join the Army as a soldier, and called her parents to share the news.
“That didn’t go well,” she said, because her parents thought it was a hard life and had hoped to spare her from that.
From 1989 to 1991, she tried to get into officer training but was turned down.
“In hindsight, I was so not ready then,” McCormick said. “I was not mature emotionally or spiritually in my 20s. I had the enthusiasm, but would have failed. It’s hard work, takes a majority of your time and I was lacking life experiences, I think, too.”
Disillusioned and hurt, McCormick left the Army, eventually met her husband and married. She worked at a variety of jobs over the next 10 years of her marriage, but when he wanted a divorce, it opened the door for her to consider returning to the Army.
A couple active in the Corp mentored her back into the Army, but McCormick was adamant about her role: She would work with the programs, but not go into officer training; her first attempt still stung.
In the ensuing years, she worked in the various programs offered at the Corp.
“There is nothing I haven’t done where the Army is concerned,” she said.
Despite her early objections, she applied for and was accepted into officer training, more mature, wiser and with more life experiences under her belt. She totally immersed herself in the Corp from 2009 to June of this year, to gain a better understanding of all that would be expected of her. She also saw how God continued to work in her life, preparing her for service even during the years she was absent.
“Even though I had left the Army, God’s hand was at work helping me gain the experience necessary to serve in the Corp,” McCormick said.
Having completed officer training, she was commissioned in June as a lieutenant in the Salvation Army and her first placement was Fergus Falls, where she has rolled up her sleeves and worked to reorganize the Thrift Store and worked with staff to continue the strong programs already offered at the Salvation Army.
Many of her days are long because when a family is in need, she makes herself available, she said.
“My day is not necessarily done at 5 p.m.; If there is a fire, my day is not done,” she said. “So much of what the Army does is outside the community of the Corp. But I told a friend that officership is exactly what I thought it would be and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
And Fergus Falls has been the perfect place for her first placement, she added.
“Fergus Falls is so welcoming and supportive of the Army,” McCormick said. “It’s really nice to come into a community with that kind of support.”
Her job would be much more difficult without it. Every day she feels the weight of responsibility on her shoulders to be a good steward of what the community gives the Salvation Army and what the Army has put her in charge of as an officer.
But the weight she is most passionate about is caring for the souls who come to the Salvation Army.
“That’s the responsibility that scares me,” she said. “I’m just as human as the rest and I could make a mistake that could cause someone to stumble. (Caring for the Army Soldiers) is the biggest responsibility that’s been put on my shoulders.”