Couple comes home to lead Salvation Army in Portland

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PORTLAND — For John and Annette Lock, coming home was a somewhat strange and unexpected happening.

The Maine natives had been away for nearly three decades, serving as majors at several Salvation Army Corps in New Jersey and Connecticut. When they were appointed to Portland, they were stunned.

“It’s unusual to be sent to the place where you grew up,” John Lock said.

What’s even more unusual about the appointment is the couple’s history in Portland.

They met at the Portland Corps, a brick building which at 297 Cumberland Ave., when they were children. They attended activities the corps offered, and eventually became members. Both their families attended services there.

John, 53, graduated from Deering High School and later worked as a pharmacy technician for Maine Medical Center. Annette, 49, graduated from Freeport High School after leaving Sanford, and went on to cosmetology school.

John’s parents were Salvation Army officers. While initially serving in Sanford, they met members of Annette’s extended family, and brought them on as members. Annette’s mother died at a young age, and she and her siblings were raised by her aunt and uncle, who were involved with the Salvation Army.

The two began dating as teenagers, and eventually were married at the outpost’s parish in 1986. Six months later they were in New Jersey looking for a change of scenery, but still wanted to be connected to the Salvation Army. They worked as employees for Divisional Headquarters in the New Jersey Division.

They later spent two years in the organization’s seminary, where they became officers. Following that, they could be appointed to serve in any community where the Salvation Army exists. Annette said it’s never certain how long an appointment will last. They spent decades in New Jersey and Connecticut.

She said appointments typically last around seven years, so they were expecting some kind of change this year. But they weren’t expecting it to be Portland.

“To be sent back here was quite shocking,” Annette said, adding it was a real gift to be sent back to serve the community where they grew up.

John said they got their latest transfer call in May, and by July 1 they were back in Portland.

“For a long time we said it was surreal,” he said of the homecoming.

But coming home is not without its challenges.

The husband-and-wife team said while the mission of the Salvation Army is the same everywhere, the focus and programs at each outpost vary. Annette said at their last appointment in Waterbury, Connecticut, there was a focus on homelessness and emergency shelter needs, whereas Portland has a greater focus on English classes and immigrant needs.

“When you go to a different community with different programs, it’s always challenging,” she said.

Additionally, they said it was hard to leave Connecticut, because they spent the last 14 years there and raised a family. Their two sons still live there.

But Annette said the call to serve in Portland was a blessing, and an opportunity to give back to the community “that gave so much to us.” She said the commitment they have to the Salvation Army is in large part thanks to those who had impacts on their early lives.

“It pays tribute to those who went before us,” she said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

John and Annette Lock were recently named the new majors for the Salvation Army in Portland. The two met and were married there decades before.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or