After six years leading The Salvation Army in Tiffin, Capts. Jerry and Mindy Uttley have been reassigned to different duties in Syracuse, N.Y. They are to depart June 27 for their new assignment at The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters.
The move will allow the couple to live closer to Jerry's parents, who have been experiencing health issues. Jerry is to receive more training in finance so he can oversee 50 Salvation Army churches. He will be traveling from place to place to check in on the corps in the area.
Mindy also will have new responsibilities.
"I'm going to be in charge of older adult ministry, the community care for seniors. I'll be overseeing camps for a period of seven weeks in the summer for seniors," Mindy said.
Throughout the year, she is to minister to the elderly in their homes and in nursing facilities. The Uttleys will be offering support to all the corps and pastors in their division. It will be a change from their duties in Tiffin. Jerry said The Salvation Army varies the length of stay for its ministers. Mindy said their predecessors had spent seven years in Tiffin.
"There really isn't a limitation. It's just whenever they need us to go somewhere else," Jerry said. "They go through many meetings and days in prayer to decide who goes where. ... They spend a number of months praying about it."
The Uttleys reflected on the work they have done locally and how they have grown as a family. Although Mindy had worked at one place before Tiffin, this was Jerry's first assignment.
"When he was commissioned, they hadn't even told us where we were going. I actually said to him, 'We're going to Ohio,' but we didn't know where in Ohio," Mindy recalled.
In the process of moving, they got split up in New Jersey, but managed to find one another and continue. Jerry said he had spent a summer in Lima and had passed through Tiffin on the way to Cedar Point. They pulled into town with Mindy driving their personal vehicle and Jerry driving a U-Haul truck.
"When we moved to Tiffin, we had just gotten married two weeks before coming to Tiffin. So we started with a new ministry, new house, new marriage. Our beginnings were here in Tiffin," Jerry said. "It was just her and I when we first came. Now we have a boy and a dog."
Now a preschooler, Jerry Uttley Jr. was born at the old Mercy Hospital. The couple called it "a blessing" to get their family started in Tiffin.
"We'll always have a part of Tiffin because we'll always have this little guy," she said. "The community has been a good support for us, not just for The Salvation Army but for us, as a family, as well. ... We've met a lot of good people who are more than just friends. They've become family to us."
The most ambitious project the Uttleys oversaw was the capital campaign and purchase of the church's new location, followed by the move and renovations to the building at 505 E. Market St. Jerry said the move had been in the planning stages for more than a year before he and Mindy arrived. The main sanctuary is not yet completed, and the existing sanctuary will need to be remodeled for classrooms. Those tasks are to fall to the new captain.
The Uttleys' last official service is at 11 a.m. June 26, to be followed by a farewell lunch reception that is open to the public. The couple expressed appreciation for the generosity of the community and the board members and volunteers who gave their time to help with the food pantry, clothing bank, soup kitchen, red kettles and other activities.
"We would like to thank the community for their support, coming alongside of us when we needed the help," Mindy said. "When we asked for food, pretty much the next day, it was at our doorstep."
She also remembered numerous times when people spotted them on the street and greeted them.
"Even out of uniform, they knew who we were," Jerry said.
Although they will miss Tiffin, the couple is ready for their new challenges. Jerry Jr. is anxious to see the summer camp where his mom will be working. It is located on one of the Finger Lakes in west central New York State.
Mindy said she and Jerry will be able to draw on what they have learned over the past six years.