After almost three years the Salvation Army’s Lester and Almeta Ward will be saying goodbye to the city, they have grown so fond of.
The two will be heading to the North Atlantic Island of Bermuda in July to continue serving the Salvation Army.
“It came as a bit of shock,” says Lt. Lester Ward. “We were quite content to stay where we were, the people were great here and they became family to us. It’s sad to leave Moose Jaw behind, but we believe that this is meant to be.”
Lt. Lester Ward has served as the Moose Jaw Salvation Army’s Director of Community and Family Services, while Lt. Almeta Ward has been the pastor at the organization’s church.
In their short stint in Moose Jaw, the Wards have done so much to give back to the community.
They helped thousands of struggling Moose Javians through their Brown Bag Breakfast program, which was served five days a week. They also helped families through several Christmas fundraisers such as their Christmas hampers, Canadian Tire Toy Days, the Moose Jaw Warriors’ Teddy Bear Toss, their Kettle Campaign, and the Motorcycle Toy Run to name a few.
Last year’s Christmas Hamper program, helped over 300 children and their families, thanks to the generosity of the community.
“We just wanted to say thank you and we want to let people know how much we appreciate them, being our first post and appointment. They’ll never be forgotten; they’ll always have a place in our lives and future. Saying thank you is not enough.”
Looking back at his time in the community, Lester says that both he and his wife feel that they have inherited a Moose Jaw family.
“When you leave, you leave your family and very shortly with our time here in Moose Jaw, it feels like we have inherited a family. We have been loved on and cared for, just a connection within a community.”
Looking ahead to their next post in Bermuda, Lester will take on the role of Executive Director of Bermuda’s Community Services, which covers two shelters; one being a drug and alcohol addiction centre and the other a homeless shelter.
Lester will also be the Area Business Manager for the island.
Almeta is going to be the pastor of the Salvation Army Church in St. Georges, along with leading the women’s ministries on the island.
“Both my wife and I have a passion for community. We’re going to be dealing with similar clients like Moose Jaw but just in a shelter setting. It expands on what we’ve already been doing here in the city. People that are hurting and struggling through life, that’s where our heart is. We really seek and look for opportunities to be able to journey with people that may be going through difficult situations in life.”
Their love of helping them was the reason they got into the Salvation Army in the first place. Originally from St. Johns, Newfoundland, the two felt a calling to ministry and walking alongside people that may be struggling in life.
The two then moved away from their home in 2019 to Booth University College in Winnipeg to take a two-year program. Into the program for 10 months, the two were approached by the Salvation Army to take their first post, which was Moose Jaw.
When arriving in Moose Jaw they were Salvation Army cadets, then completed their training, and were ordained as pastors.
Their final Sunday in Moose Jaw will be on June 18 at the Salvation Army Community Church, which will also serve as a farewell service. They will travel to Bermuda and begin their post there on July 21.
Majors Don and Elizabeth Grad from Swift Current will replace the Wards, as the pastors of the community church at the end of June.