Board members and supporters of The Salvation Army, along with public officials and friends, gathered at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta Thursday night to send Lt. Jamaal Ellis and Lt. Tamarique Ellis on their way as they head to Shreveport, Louisiana, next week for their new posting.
The Ellises arrived in Greenwood in 2016, straight out of seminary at The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth College in Atlanta. They brought with them their two sons, Jamaal Jr., who was 2 at the time, and Daniel, who was only 5 months, along with ideas on how to build a team.
Within a week of arriving, Jamaal Ellis took Corps member Billy Dempsey and headed for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to help victims and first responders affected by catastrophic flooding there.
The Ellises and Greenwood volunteers responded first with food to help the firefighters and others in July of 2017 when the Marine Corps’ KC-130T crashed into soybean fields outside Itta Bena and killed all 16 aboard.
And the Ellises led the team that moved the Family Store and offices from their location on the frontage road on U.S. 82 to a newly refurbished and expansive building on Mississippi 7, giving them plenty of room for The Salvation Army presence to grow in the community.
Tracy Shelton, The Salvation Army board chairperson, presented the Ellises with a plaque, holding back tears as she read the inscription. “They’re going to be very much missed,” she said. “Everyone on the board and the community will miss you.”
Asked to lead a prayer in front of the gathering, Tami Ellis said, “Usually I have the words, but tonight I don’t know what to say.” When someone in the back of the room offered, “That’s because you’re going to cry,” she agreed and said, “Just how good God has been to us.”
She motioned to the tables of Corps members in the room and thanked those “who have laid the foundation for us.”
“We appreciate all the accolades we have received, but it’s really the people we have worked with,” said Jamaal Ellis.
“Our leaders as well are so grateful to the people of Greenwood for all the support you have given us,” Tami Ellis said.
While they have two more years of service before they will be promoted to captains, the Ellises’ success in Greenwood is recognized in their new posting to a larger market where they will be able to have greater impact.
Jamaal Ellis said the move is in recognition also of their concept of building a team around them and the church.
“It’s going to take a team,” he said. “We brought the team to Greenwood to serve the community, not just to serve The Salvation Army.”
The Ellises will be replaced in Greenwood by Lts. Jason and Keisha McMullin.
•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.