By EDWARD HUSAR and DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writers
Majs. Dan and Dorene Jennings, Salvation Army officers for the Quincy/Hannibal region, have received a change of appointment beginning Feb. 6.
They will be serving as divisional leaders for the Wisconsin and the Upper Michigan Division, which includes 25 Salvation Army corps community centers including the Kroc Center in Green Bay, Wis. Jennings will serve as the division commander, and his wife will serve as director of women's ministries. They will be based in Wauwatosa, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee.
The new officers to be appointed to the Quincy/Hannibal region should be announced in early January. An announcement of the changes was made this morning at a news conference at the Kroc Center.
Jo Kirlin, chairman of the Salvation Army's governing board, said board members and staff members at the Kroc Center were saddened to hear the Jenningses will be leaving after being in Quincy just two years.
"We were all just sick" to hear the news, Kirlin said.
The Jenningses came to Quincy in February 2011 from the Salvation Army headquarters in Des Plaines. Jennings served there as the assistant secretary for program and secretary for spiritual life development, while Dorene Jennings served as the community care ministries secretary.
They followed Majs. Alan and Carol Wurtz, who served in Quincy for more than seven years and helped lay the groundwork for the Kroc Center and oversaw the early stages of construction.
"They (the Jenningses) were a prayer answered," Kirlin said. "It was just before the Kroc was beginning to be ready to opened, and there were some issues that needed to be addressed, and he came in and gave such leadership. Honestly, Dan Jennings is a visionary."
Kirlin noted that Quincy's Kroc Center not only opened on schedule and on budget, but that it has been flourishing under Jennings' leadership for the past year. She said Salvation Army officials from other Kroc Centers have been coming to Quincy to get tips on how to run a successful operation.
She said some of the staff members at the Kroc Center were in tears when they learned the Jenningses were leaving.
"They just meshed with the staff so well, and the staff loved them," Kirlin said.
Jennings says he and his wife are excited about the new opportunity but will greatly miss Quincy, their home for nearly two years.
"It has been our privilege to be part of the launch of the Quincy Kroc Center, an honor to serve in the Quincy/Hannibal area and to get to know so many wonderful, caring people," Jennings said.
Jennings said the reassignment came as "a complete surprise to us. We had anticipated staying here probably four to five years."
Instead, the territorial commander in charge of Salvation Army operations in 11 central states called last week and asked the couple to oversee operations in essentially all of Wisconsin and the western part of the upper peninsula of Michigan.
Jennings said he has mixed feelings about leaving.
"We, first of all, have enjoyed working in Quincy just immensely and really enjoyed the challenge of getting the Kroc Center built and up and going. It's a real privilege to be part of such a great initiative," he said. "We just hate to move, hate to leave, because we feel like there's so much more to get done."
Jennings also noted he was pleased to be a part of the planning and construction of the new family service center and shelter, which is slated to open shortly after the Jenningses leave for Wisconsin. They hope to come back for the dedication.
Jennings said his main focus for the remainder of the year will be to complete a successful Christmas campaign, a vital fund-raising effort for the local Salvation Army.
Kirlin said the Salvation Army board is planning to host a farewell for the Jenningses from 4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Kroc Center. She said Jennings will give his farewell sermon at the Salvation Army church at 10 a.m. Jan. 27.
Kirlin said the board also plans to host a welcoming ceremony for the new officers assigned to Quincy.
"We're most eager to find out who it will be," Kirlin said. "Dan has assured us it will be someone of leadership quality."
The Jenningses were commissioned as officers in 1994 and have served in corps and divisional appointments in the Salvation Army's Western Division, which encompasses all or part of 11 Midwest states.
The $27.2 million Kroc Center was the focal point of their assignment in Quincy.
The center, which held its grand opening on Sept. 18, 2011, was designed to be an anchor in the downtown and west end of Quincy. It offers a 500-seat chapel, a swimming pool and water slide, a game room, workout areas, a gymnasium, a walking/running track, a rock climbing wall, a full-service kitchen and a children's watch and nursery area.
Jennings previously worked with Kroc centers in Chicago, South Bend, Ind., Grand Rapids, Mich., Omaha, Neb., and Green Bay, Wis. Quincy's is the second largest in the region, topped only by the Chicago site.
"I get a feeling from talking to people around town there is a great sense of pride in Quincy receiving a Kroc Center," Jennings said in a September 2011 Herald-Whig story. "The most gratifying part of this whole process for me has been to see the faces of those who experience the Kroc Center for the first time."
The Salvation Army broke ground in April on the $2.2 million emergency shelter and family services building. The project involves renovation of the former Inman Gallery building at 501 Broadway plus construction of an addition to the north.
Construction of the complex had been sought because the shelter and family services offices have been in leased buildings far removed from each other. The Family Services Center has been operating out of the former Adams County Health Department at Sixth and Broadway. The emergency shelter is on the Quincy University North Campus at 18th and Seminary Road.
This story has been updated.