PARKERSBURG - The new commanders of the Salvation Army of Parkersburg are looking forward to getting started.
Lieutenants John and Sharon Autry had their first full day in the Parkersburg office on Monday. The Autrys are replacing Captains Erik and Mechelle Henry.
"We are excited and honored to be part of the work of The Salvation Army in Parkersburg," John Autry said. "The Salvation Army has been a part of Parkersburg's heritage since 1903, and we know there is a legacy of good work that we now have the privilege of being part of."
Lieutenants John and Sharon Autry have taken over the leadership of the Salvation Army of Parkersburg with their first day in the local offices on Monday.
The couple are eager to serve the Mid-Ohio Valley. They come to Parkersburg from Oklahoma City, Okla., where they served for two years as corps officers in the southeast part of the city.
While there, they experienced the tragedy of the May 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes first hand.
Throughout their work in Oklahoma, the couple gave continual praise to God for the work they were able to do through their oversight of a Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, community Senior Center, and close work with The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center.
The Autrys have been married for just over 10 years. John was graduating with his Master's in Divinity from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University when they met. At that time Sharon was preparing to become part of the third generation of Salvation Army officers in her family and introduced him to the ministries of the Salvation Army.
The couple is looking at the needs around the Parkersburg area and how they might to be best able to serve the community.
"I hope and pray that with our experience and background, we can serve the community through the love of Christ, whether that is with our social services, the thrift store, our lodge or even with the church," John Autry said. "This being our first day, we know very little about the area.
"I am sure there is a drug problem here like there is everywhere. I would like to research and find out how we can minister to those who are struggling with addiction."
The Autrys are getting to know the staff at the local offices of the Salvation Army as well as the community and its people.
"We are compiling what are the major needs of this community and how we can meet those needs," John Autry said. "We are walking around a lot and seeing some improvements we can make on the property.
"I think in terms of the team and how we can strengthen our Where are our strengths? Where are our weaknesses? How can we strengthen the team? How can we build those?"
The Autrys have two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. They describe themselves as an active family, enjoying sports of all kinds and especially enjoying SEC rivalries.
Sharon Autry blogs in her spare time at www.practicehospitality.com.
The couple is looking forward to getting started.
"For us, our arrival here is just another page in the greater book of the Salvation Army's work and ministry here in Parkersburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley," Sharon Autry said. "We know that the Salvation Army's work began here in Parkersburg in the early 1900s.
"We want to continue that great heritage. The Salvation Army and this community have had a beautiful relationship and we feel privileged to continue that great work."
To do that, they will forge relationships around the community.
"We will need the help of the community and we know the community has always been there to serve in the various ways the Salvation Army has been there to touch the lives of the needy," Sharon Autry said. "We feel equipped just by that fact that we can rely on the people of Parkersburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley area in the great task ahead of us.
"We aim to serve with excellence through the continued support of our local community and creative collaboration with partner agencies in this humbling work."