The Salvation Army has had a presence in Fort Frances since 1914, the entire time in the same building that has served them well for more than 100 years. On January 29, a new chapter for the Fort Frances corps began as they moved around the corner to a new location on the main street of town.
“I was so impressed when I pulled up in front of the building. It was already dark outside but the building looked so warm and inviting through the big front windows that I was literally drawn inside,” said Major Rob Kerr, Divisional Secretary of Public Relations and Development with the new Fort Frances Community Ministry Centre.
The new facility has been renovated to provide full accessibility to anyone coming to The Salvation Army to shop in the Thrift Store, access support through the Community and Family Services or participate in the worship service on Sunday mornings.
There was a great deal of interest from the local community Saturday evening as an open house took place. Many visitors commented on how nice the facility looked inside, and others remembered its former retail days and marveled at how bright and modern it had become.
On Sunday morning, Division Leaders Majors Shawn and Brenda Critch; Corps Officer Lt. Ryan McDonald; and Mayor Roy Avis started the morning worship service with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, followed by a high energy worship service that included greetings from the mayor and Divisional Headquarters. Two community choirs participated in the celebration and demonstrated the connection The Salvation Army in Fort Frances has enjoyed with the community for a very long time.
Major Shawn Critch challenged the congregation to remember that the building is dedicated to the Glory of God, and is to be used for that purpose; not to bring glory to ourselves.
“The commitment of The Salvation Army in the purchase and renovation of this building is first and foremost for the glory of God,” Critch said. “It is a place where our belief in God will be proclaimed; through words and expressions of compassion. It presents to us an opportunity to further engage the work of the Army in Fort Frances and the surrounding area. We are committed in being a partner to realize a stronger community. The love of Christ compels us, now and for the 150 years of our mission. Building bridges of conversation and reconciliation, creating space where a new story can emerge; that is the confidence I have for the continuing work of The Salvation Army in this community.”
Lt. McDonald suggested the building will serve the community for the next 100 years, but at the same time said he would like to see the church outgrow the building as lives continue to be transformed in the community.
Following the morning service, Lt. McDonald invited everyone to stay for a celebration meal together.