ESCANABA - Majors Ralph and Debbie Hansen were commissioned as officers in The Salvation Army on June 11, 1978, as a part of the Disciples of Jesus session of Training. The Hansen's were long-time salvationists attending The Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Clinton, Iowa.
The couple will take over as majors for the local Salvation Army once current Maj. Bill Cox leaves his post for a new position in Duluth, Minn.
Ralph was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Debbie was born in Iowa City, Iowa. They met as young people involved in Salvation Army activities in Clinton, Iowa, and were married on Sept. 15, 1973. Upon feeling God's call in their life, the two entered The Salvation Army School for Officers Training in August 1976.
Majors Ralph and Debbie Hansen
Upon completion of The Salvation Army School for Officers Training, they were commissioned lieutenants and appointed pro-tem in command of the Community Center in Michigan City, Ind., where they served between June and August. In September of 1978, they were assigned in command of the Mishawaka, Ind., Corps Community Center.
On June 14, 1979, God blessed them with the birth of their first child, a son, Stephen and on Oct. 14, 1980, their family was completed with the birth of their daughter Tabitha. They were then appointed to the following Corps Community Centers: Grand Rapids, Mich. (Burton Heights) July 1982-June 1984; Danville, Ill., July 1984-June 1987; Howell, Mich. July 1987-June 1990; Bloomington, Ind., July 1990-June 1995; Grand Haven, Mich. July 1995-June 2000.
In July 2000, Ralph was appointed as the divisional secretary and Debbie as the Divisional Women's Ministries Secretary for the Heartland Division in Peoria, Ill. Then on Oct. 1, 2001, Ralph was appointed as the assistant territorial property secretary and Maj. Debbie Hansen as the conference center director at The Salvation Army Central Territorial Headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill. They were next appointed as the divisional secretary and divisional women's ministries secretary in July of 2004, where they have served until being appointed in July to the command of The Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Escanaba.
The Hansens are pleased that their son Stephen was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in June 2009 with the rank of lieutenant and appointed as the assistant officer for the Albert Lea, Minn., Corps. In February, Stephen was appointed to command of The Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Ishpeming. Their daughter Tabitha and her husband Oliver Knuth were commissioned as captains in June 2005 and were appointed in command of the Des Moines, Iowa (Temple) Corps Community Center. They will also take up new responsibilities this July in command of the Ottumwa, Iowa Corps Community Center.
Throughout their 33 years of service to The Salvation Army, the Hansens have a wide array of responsibilities and leadership opportunities. They have given oversight to after-school programs, summer day camps, disaster services, emergency social services, community centers, shelters and thrift stores operated by The Salvation Army. In two of their appointments they worked to open a new child care center and a scattered site transitional housing program. In administrative duties, Ralph has given oversight to volunteers, human resources, property, legal matters, information and technology, and divisional programs for spiritual development. Debbie has provided direction to a myriad of Divisional Women's Ministry programs and services as well as oversight to a conference center.
They celebrate most the opportunity to be used by God to provide pastoral care for those with whom they have been privileged to work. In concert with the mission of The Salvation Army, they seek to save souls, disciple believers, and serve suffering humanity, in Jesus name.
"We are excited about the possibility to follow in the great tradition of service to Escanaba and the surrounding communities," the couple said.