New Salvation Army pastor brings fresh set of eyes to her assignment in small town

Capt. Barbara McCauley, pastor of The Salvation Army in Huntington, says that as a single pastor she’s “in the minority” in a denomination where churches are normally led by a husband-and-wife team of pastors.
Capt. Barbara McCauley, pastor of The Salvation Army in Huntington, says that as a single pastor she’s “in the minority” in a denomination where churches are normally led by a husband-and-wife team of pastors. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 19, 2012.

Capt. Barbara McCauley comes to Huntington with a fresh set of eyes.

As a pastor with The Salvation Army - a church that places a major emphasis on serving its community - McCauley's previous service has been mainly in inner city settings of large cities.

"So coming to Huntington was kind of a shock," says McCauley, who assumed her role here in July. "But human need is the same. People want to be loved. They want to be wanted. They want to be accepted."

Filling that need is the main goal of the Army's biggest yearly fund-raiser, the red kettle campaign, which rolls around every Christmas season. In Huntington, the kettles went out last Saturday, Nov. 17, and the familiar jingles will continue through Christmas Eve.
McCauley hopes the kettles bring in $100,000, which will fund community programs not only during the holiday season but throughout the year. Last year's goal was $94,000, she noted.

"We tried to be really aggressive this year," McCauley says. "There's such a need in the community."

McCauley sees "big city problems," including drugs, filtering into smaller communities like Huntington. She sees families struggling to cope with difficult situations. And she sees a community that wants to face those problems.

"I think the community wants to feel involved," McCauley says.

The Salvation Army's role, she explains, is to assess struggling families and help those families decide what kind of services - drug education, financial help, spiritual assistance - will help them become more stable. The next step is to connect them with available resources. Before any of that can happen, though, the family must want the help.

"We work with families who do want to change," she says. "We take care of their needs so they can move beyond where they are now ... But it needs to be something the family wants."

Over the next couple of years, she says, The Salvation Army plans to roll out Project of Hope to assist those families.

The church continues to offer assistance with shelter, utility payments and food, along with special assistance at Christmas - all funded through the red kettle donations. The Salvation Army hosts Bingo for Seniors and a basketball league for students at its East Market Street facility, as well as a before and after school care program for students in area schools - all programs that will continue under McCauley's leadership.

She'd like to expand services to include workshops on financial and other topics, either staged by The Salvation Army or hosting workshops by another agency. She'd like to grow the congregation, which now averages 30 to 35 people for Sunday services, and start making home visits.

McCauley is flying solo in her position as a Salvation Army pastor, so she's relying on members of the congregation and the community to share some of the responsibility for Salvation Army programs.

"There are not very many single pastors in the Salvation Army," McCauley says. At most churches, a husband-and-wife team shares pastoring responsibilities. That's been the case in Huntington for many years - McCauley says the last time a single pastor served here was sometime in the 1950s.

"We are in the minority," McCauley says of single pastors.

A single pastor, she says, must connect with "people in the community, people in the congregation that can share some of the tasks normally done by a spouse."

McCauley, who was born in Michigan, is familiar with the husband-and-wife team of pastors. Her parents were Salvation Army pastors, she says, "so I grew up in seven or eight different states" as they traveled from assignment to assignment.

She left The Salvation Army for a time when she was in her 20s, but eventually decided she wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps.

"Being a pastor is certainly a calling by God," she says.

Her role as a Salvation Army pastor, she says, allows her to "merge the spiritual with the social; being able to be practical with the gospels."

Over the past 12 years, she says, she's served in St. Charles, MI; Ypsilanti and Roseville, MI; and most recently in Detroit. Although she hasn't always enjoyed the frequent moves, she says, she's become accustomed to the nomad life.

"I can see in each place that I've gone that there's a purpose for me being there," she says.