The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 11, 2013

Saying goodbye to the Dancers

Couple moving to Georgia Salvation Army assignment

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — After three years in Enid, Majors John and Geri Dancer will be leaving Enid’s Salvation Army and moving to a new assignment in Brunswick, Ga.

Their last day on duty will be June 16. On June 17, they will pack their personal possessions into a rented car and drive to Georgia, where they will serve the Salvation Army corps in that community.

New administrators and pastors for Enid’s Salvation Army are coming from Lawton.

The Dancers both come from families active in the work of the Army.

“I grew up in the Salvation Army,” Geri Dancer said. “I’m a fifth-generation officer and pastor in the Salvation Army. I never knew anything else.”

It was her work as an officer that led her down the path of meeting John, Geri Dancer said.

After her ordination in Suffern, N.Y.,  Geri Dancer was assigned to Perth Amboy, N.J. After that, she was assigned to Worcester, Mass.

“That’s where I met up with his family,” Geri Dancer said.

She looked at her husband and smiled.

“Your sister said ‘You’re going to marry my brother,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not,’” Geri Dancer recalled.

“She came as my pastor,” John Dancer said. “I was playing drums for a living and working for a detox center.”

He had moved to Worcester to take care of his dying father.

“It was part of God’s plan,” John Dancer said.

Geri Dancer temporarily had to give up her rank when she married John. The Salvation Army requires that clergy who wish to marry must marry other members of the clergy. They married in 1981, and worked together in Florida as employees of the Salvation Army. They started the Salvation Army church at Stewart, Fla. They went from Florida to Tulsa, then to Atlanta for John Dancer to attend seminary. John Dancer was ordained in 1997. After that, the couple were assigned to the corps at Altus. After Altus, they went to Mountain Home, Ark., and then Hot Springs, Ark.

The couple now have three sons. James, 19, attends Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. Adopted twins Jacob and Spencer, 13, attend Waller Middle School.

“We’ve had a lot of success here,” John Dancer said of the Enid years. “We have so many people who come though our doors who can’t wait to get back on their feet.”

The goal of the Salvation Army’s work is to help people become self-sufficient, not dependent, John Dancer said.

The 2012 annual report for Enid’s Salvation Army shows the corps served 13,452 hot meals, provided 2,590 nights of lodging, distributed 18,010 items from the food pantry, helped 139 people with utilities and assisted 5,175 people overall.

Seasonal assistance was provided for 828 children, 705 families and 1,063 seniors.

The corps provided 591 meals as part of disaster assistance and has nine local disaster volunteers.

Worship programs drew attendance of 8,325, youth programs drew 1,655, adult ministries drew 710 and music programs drew 688.

An advisory board made up of 25 community members helps steer Enid’s Salvation Army.