In their daily lives, Tex and Andrea Ellis wear many hats and serve in various roles as leaders of the Salvation Army of Grayson County. While the couple and the organization are known for their community work fundraising for charitable programs, far fewer know about their ministerial work.
“In the general population today, most view us as the people outside with the bell and kettle. Disaster relief is a close second,” Maj. Tex Ellis said. “The biggest thing we get everyday is, ‘I didn’t know you guys were a church.’”
For the past four years, the couple have served as Majors over operations at the organization’s Grayson County chapel and shelter. In this role, Tex said he works with social work, theology, administration and business operations, among other duties.
“In the U.S. we are more known for our services — Christmas time, emergency relief, daily services — than we are for theology,” he said. Tex described the Salvation Army as being in the Wesleyan Tradition, with many similarities to Methodist and Nazarene practices.
“William Booth felt that the ministry was to the point of their needs, then you can offer theology,” he said of the Salvation Army’s founder.
The Ellises first came to Grayson County nearly four years ago when Majors Don and Helene Wildish were rotated to new assignments. In their 21 years of service to the Salvation Army, the Ellises have served at posts including Wichita Falls, Midland and Conroe (where the Wildishes were reassigned).
A typical day for the Ellises starts with getting their four children ready for school. The work day often starts with checking emails and voicemails. Depending on the day, there may be night meetings and other services that keep the couple out after dark. During the Christmas season (which starts in October for the Salvation Army), each work day is usually about 14 hours long.
“We are out there fundraising,” Tex said. “And some of them don’t know why,” Andrea finished.
Tex said he grew up within the Salvation Army. His father, who was a retired minister, made a second career as a Salvation Army officer. In school, Tex would end up studying theology.
“We both feel God called us to do this with our lives,” he said. “I felt called into ministry at a young age. As I grew up, I began to recognize it and all the possibilities. It was all there.”
For her part, Andrea also grew up in the Salvation Army, with both parents serving as officers. Throughout her childhood, she would move with her parents as they were assigned new posts. In total, she attended 11 schools throughout her childhood. In hindsight, she said she adapted to it, but said it likely affected her siblings more than it did her.
“It was like any other military family,” she said. “You learn to adapt.”
While she initially intended to study pre-med, Andrea ultimately switched to social work and human services as a better fit.
Despite the challenges that come with having to relocate regularly, Tex said he preferred to see it as an opportunity.
“I call it an opportunity, there are always new opportunities,” he said. “Sometimes it is a challenge, but I view it as rebuilding relationships. Nothing changes, really, but the face. While our faces will change when we go, you will find the staff and advisory board are always here.”