TUPELO • Majs. Ray and Whitney Morton are ready to build on The Salvation Army’s firm foundation in Tupelo.
“It’s exciting to see what’s happening here,” said Whitney Morton. “Every day I find new things.”
The Mortons, who have spent the last two years leading the Salvation Army in Shreveport, Louisiana, took the reins as senior officers for the Salvation Army in Tupelo from Majs. Jeff and Linda Daniel, who retired in June.
In addition to the emergency shelter, feeding programs, thrift shops, disaster assistance and worship services, the Mortons will be managing ongoing renovation projects on the Carnation Street campus. The new Jim Ingram Lodge is nearly complete. Half of the community center renovations have been completed. Right now, work is focused on the campus kitchen.
“It’s been incredible to move into a place where everything has been refreshed,” Whitney Morton said.
The Mortons have been working with community partners to balance the limitations created by an inaccessible kitchen.
“In the two weeks we’ve been here, it’s been awesome,” Ray Morton said.
The Mortons said they’ve been impressed by the community spirit in Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi and the commitment to reach out to the homeless.
“It’s truly something to be proud of,” Whitney Morton said. “Not every place has that.”
This is the second time the Salvation Army has brought Whitney Morton to Northeast Mississippi. She was deployed to help in the aftermath of the Smithville tornado in 2011 and is looking forward to seeing how for the town has come.
“It’s always fun to see the way the Lord weaves our lives and stories together,” Whitney Morton said.
History of service
For both Mortons, the Salvation Army has been a part of their lives since they were children growing up in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Ray Morton can trace the legacy of service to the Salvation Army back generations. He grew up watching his parents share God’s love and how the fruits of that love changed people’s lives.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Ray Morton said.
Tending the iconic red kettle was a family tradition for Whitney Morton.
“Every year on Christmas Eve, my family had the whole day at Walmart ringing the bell,” Whitney Morton said. “My dad still does it.”
The Mortons met at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and married their junior year of college. They entered the Salvation Army seminary together and are now beginning their 18th year of service and eighth posting. Son Joshua, now 17, and daughter Isobel, now 16, came along early in their career.
The Mortons are looking forward to learning more about Tupelo and sharing the Salvation Army’s mission.
“We want to model the life of ministry you can have with the Lord,” Whitney Morton said.