Majors Terry & Joanne Cook
Called by God to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as an officer of The Salvation Army.
I bind myself to Him in this solemn covenant.
To LOVE and serve Him supremely all my days;
To LIVE to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life;
To CARE for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable and befriend those who have no friends;
To MAINTAIN the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army and by God’s grace to prove myself a worth officer.
Majors Terry & Joanne Cook
Considering the troublesome journey they’ve shared and the sorrows they have witnessed among others, Salvation Army Majors Terry and Joanne Cook are a laughing, loving pair if ever there was one. Their hope is that they can share their own love of God with the people of St. Albert.
Since June of 1997, the couple has shared a joint ministry as Salvation Army pastors. Together they managed a home for transient people in Ontario. They served as Salvation Army Officers in High River and in Wetaskiwin. Now they are proud to take over the leadership of the St. Albert corps.
As they talked about their own lives and what led them to each other and to Jesus and finally to the Salvation Army, both admitted to troubled years as teens and young adults, using drugs and alcohol as they tried to fit in.
Terry has a son and daughter from a previous relationship and believes his love for his children was part of the reason he changed.
“I found Jesus the Thursday evening before my first ‘Father’s Day’,” he said. On that evening Terry met with a pastor/friend and together they prayed.
“I quit drinking, smoking and drugs,” Terry said. “My life was completely transformed.”
When asked, “Why The Salvation Army”, Terry simply stated, “I have no other way to explain it than to say that God called me.”
Like Terry, Joanne was floundering in those days in the mid-’80s.
“I remember at age 22, I thought my life was over. I thought I had ruined my life,” she said.
But Joanne found friends, who invited her to go with them to an Anglican church service and it was there that she found acceptance. She learned to forgive herself.
“They were caring and patient. They didn’t demand change. They loved me for the way I was despite all my sins and all my failure. I felt connected,” she said.
The couple met through mutual friends. They married in 1987 and began volunteering and working for the Salvation Army. By 1990 they were living in the upstairs of a Salvation Army-owned home. The basement had four bedrooms reserved for transients.
Though they had three of their own pre-school-aged children, including a baby by that time, Joanne maintains they were not afraid of the strangers who came to their door.
“Everybody goes through struggles in life. The church is there for anybody and everybody. Mostly they came to our house just because of poverty and they would stay one or two nights,” she said.
There was a locked door between the two floor levels, but most days the visitors from downstairs would come up for meals or just to watch TV.
“Our kids were comfortable (with their guests) because we were comfortable,” Joanne said.
After five years at the transient house, Terry and Joanne felt the call to Salvation Army ministry through Officership. Terry needed to upgrade his schooling to gain admission to the training college but in 1997 they were ordained as newly commissioned Lieutenants of The Salvation Army.
The Cooks moved to St. Albert in the summer of 2015 to replace Lieutenants Peter and Grace Kim, who had been sent to a new posting in Lethbridge and have since been transferred to Grand Prairie.
“The Army sends us where the need is. They try to meet and match our own skills of ministry to the community needs as well as looking after our family’s needs,” Terry said. “Sometimes it is hard to balance everything but they do everything they can to help us succeed.”
The Cooks asked to stay in Alberta, which they have grown to love. In most families it is the children that move away from their parents. That is often not the case for Salvation Army Officers. For the Cooks, their three adult children (early to mid twenties) remained in Wetaskiwin when they transferred to St. Albert.
“We’ve found that, wherever we go in Alberta, people are welcoming,” Terry said.
Joanne marvels at the way in which they are now able to help others, believing that their own past experiences, through the Grace of God, help them to help others.
“We are troubled people. It’s been given to us to accept the grace and the humanity given to us by God. We found hope and we are determined to share hope,” she said. “God used my quirkiness and my strangeness and my past to help someone else’s future. He took someone broken and he turned me around and used me to bring hope to others,” she said.
(by: Sharon Jones of the St. Albert gazette)