The Salvation Army is pulling out of Thompson.
The announcement of the closure of the church’s Thompson operations, which include the church as well as a food bank and a thrift store, was announced via press release May 25.
The last service for the congregation was held May 1 and the thrift store is expected to shut down on May 28, while the food bank will wrap up operations on June 15, 12 days before the entire organization closes its doors for good on June 27.
The Salvation Army has been in Thompson for more than 50 years.
“It has been a very difficult decision for the Salvation Army to conclude our presence in the community of Thompson,” said Major Les Marshall, divisional commander for the church’s Prairie Division. “We are very grateful for all of those who have supported the various Salvation Army ministries in Thompson over the years, and we know that many individuals and families in the community have been impacted through the support they have receive from the Salvation Army over the years. However, we are working with local organizations to ensure that services and supports that people have come to count on the Salvation Army for will continue to be available after our departure.”
Major Al Hoeft, spokesperson for the Salvation Army Prairie Division, told the Thompson Citizen that a variety of factors play into the decision to shut down operations in any community and that Thompson is not the first place where it has happened.
“Over the last decade, there have been several communities that we’ve had to cease operations,” said Hoeft. “And this is just, at this point, the next one. It’s unfortunate but it’s sort of the reality of the work that we’re in, that there do come times when we need to make the difficult decision to leave a community.”
Congregation size and economic factors are among the items taken into consideration, Hoeft, said, as is the overall strength of the church as a whole.
“Our funding model is on a national level,” he said. “Those communities that struggle to internally fund operations, those funds need to come from other places. It’s not just about that piece… but it certainly does enter into the conversation on a regular basis.”
Hoeft said deciding to shut down came only after a lot of conversation amongst those in charge of the church’s Prairie Division and that work is being done to see if there are other organizations who can run things like a food bank or a thrift store.
“We’ve been working and continue to work with other local organizations to make sure that the gaps won’t exist, that service will continue to be provided and will support them in transition,” Hoeft said. “Whether that’s our food bank or thrift store, those kinds of operations, those things will work with other partners in the community to make sure there aren’t gaps.”
A decision will have to be made later about what to do with the property on Thompson Drive where the church and the food bank are located.
“What that looks like is not completely determined yet,” Hoeft said.
The potential to offer things like emergency services remains a possibility.
“We have personnel still stationed in Flin Flon and we also have an emergency services vehicle stationed in Flin Flon that would be able to respond in time of crisis,” said Hoeft. “So we aren’t abandoning the community of Thompson by any stretch of the imagination, but changing the way that we’re providing services there for the time being.”