‘They see God in us’

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”—Colossians 3:23.

Cynthia Kyser still remembers the sweet Christian spirit she felt last November when she entered the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Ashland, Ohio.

“I felt God’s love once I walked through the doors,” she said. “I felt the warmth of the people working there. They showed grace and greeted everyone with love and compassion and sincerity. That’s what was shown to me.”

Kyser was there to interview for the position of director of social services. She soon met with Majors Annalise and Billy Francis, Kroc Center corps officers, who shared their vision of love and compassion for the community.

“I wanted to be a part of that team,” Kyser said.

Kyser got the job, joined the team, and helped the Kroc Center become one of 76 faith-based organizations certified as a Best Christian Workplace in 2020 by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI).

BCWI ( is an international non-profit, research-based, organizational development and human resources consulting firm with offices in Mercer Island, a city in Washington state; and in London, Ontario. BCWI’s mission is to equip and inspire Christian leaders to build a flourishing workplace.

Since 2002, BCWI’s Employee Engagement Survey has been completed by more than 1,100 churches, faith-based non-profits, and Christian-owned businesses in the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central America.

Major Annalise said the Eastern Territory has worked with BCWI to assess and improve staff engagement and the culture of each Kroc Center.

BCWI did an assessment survey in January and the Ashland Kroc had 100 percent staff participation. BCWI then aggregated the survey data to come up with an overall score, as well as a score in eight key performance indicators: sustainable strategy, fantastic teams, inspirational leadership, healthy communication, life-giving work, uplifting growth, outstanding talent, and rewarding compensation.

“We received helpful information about strengths, as well as areas for improvement, and suggestions for how to move forward,” Major Annalise said.

Tara Vandersande, an engagement consultant with BCWI, met with the Kroc Center’s leadership team to share the results and next steps. The certification was presented in February at a territory-wide Kroc staff meeting. The Ashland Kroc Center will be reassessed in a year.

“The assessment, results, and BCWI have been wonderful resources,” Major Annalise said. “They will help us understand where we are and who we are and create a path to who and where we want to be together,” she said. “We have a great staff at the Ashland Kroc Center that has high mission alignment and engagement.

“We seek to create a culture where everyone feels important and appreciated, commits to doing their job for the glory of God and the betterment of others, strives for excellence, has consistency and accountability, works together towards continuous improvement, supports one another, and has fun doing it.”

Major Annalise said the Kroc Center holds midweek worship and devotions. There are also monthly all-staff meetings to communicate important values and information and to share and coordinate across departments. Each department also has regular team meetings.

“We try to be intentional about checking in with staff members and getting to know them,” she said. “Our staff teamwork has shone through and been strengthened during the pandemic. They have shown compassion, flexibility, and grace.”

Kyser, a former corrections officer, court clerk, and shelter manager, called The Salvation Army “a wonderful place to work and provide assistance for our community.”

“We continue the work of the Lord,” says Kyser, an elder at her church. “We make sure we are an example of the mission statement,* which states that we are an international movement of the evangelical church based on the Bible.

“We continue to show God’s love by serving people with love, with compassion, and with empathy. When people see us, they don’t really see us, but they see God in us. As long as we continue to focus on that, The Salvation Army will continue to be a wonderful place to work.”

by Robert Mitchell

*The Salvation Army Mission Statement: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.