The Salvation Army Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command is under the leadership of Majors Terry and Sharon Ray, who serve the entire lower six counties of Southern Mississippi as Area Commanders.
Prior to coming to the Coast, the Majors were the Divisional Youth Secretaries for North and South Carolina and operated the camp for the division. In Biloxi, they replace Majors Alan and Belinda Hill, who were appointed to the Mobile Area Command.
The news of their appointment didn't surprise the Majors. As Salvation Army Officers, the Rays expect to be reassigned throughout their careers. The commitment of being an Officer includes moving your family frequently, and accepting reassignments based on career development and filling the needs of The Salvation Army locations. The assignment on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is an acknowledgement of their ability to manage a growing community center, rebuilding communities and congregation.
Major Ray is a military veteran, having served with the 101st Airborne. After leaving the military, he took his first job with The Salvation Army in St. Louis as the music teacher for a community center. Here he met his wife, whose parents happened to be the Salvation Army officers at the center. Mrs. Ray was a third grade teacher for special hearing impaired students and has served as an interpreter at the time.
Motivated by the love of God and passion for helping others, the Rays made the decision to become Salvation Army officers in 1996 and were commissioned as lieutenants to the Washington D.C. area. The Rays have also had appointments in Minneapolis, St. Louis and North and South Carolina. They were promoted to the rank of Major in June of 2011 before taking the Area Command placement on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"We are so excited to have this new appointment on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and be part of the continued effort to rebuild. We are champions for all people, especially children
Major Tarryl Ray has been active in disaster response service. He has served as the first responder at the Pentagon following the events of September 11 and served as the Logistics Officer there, serving the military and law enforcement personnel.
The Rays have three children, Kirsten (17), Matthew (14) and Kenzie (12).