Walk These Steps

Feb 28, 2023 | by Annie Beurman

Growing up, Major Janice Love’s older sister had to juggle her studies in social work with The Salvation Army and babysitting Janice. Little did Maj. Love know attending their corps’ youth programs would set the course of her life for years to come.

“I started going to the character building programs,” Maj. Love said. “My parents were concerned about me going there because they only knew The Salvation Army for its white leadership. Allowing me to go was really testing to make sure I would be okay.”

While passionate and determined in her work, Major Love’s path was truly set in stone while working at The Salvation Army Omaha Gene Eppley Camp. There she met Maj. Vivian Childs (then Capt. Vivian Taylor), a Black officer.

“She was the first officer of color I'd ever seen,” Major Love recalled. “That was when I knew I could do it. That was what began my journey.”

After her commissioning, Maj. Love took on her first position as an officer in Bay City, Mich. still facing challenges as a newly minted Lieutenant.

“There was always a stress on me. In Bay City there was only one other Black family. Because of the few Black officers in The Salvation Army at that time, I always felt I couldn't fail because I didn't want others to perceive that this is how all people of color are,” Maj. Love admitted.

At times, the stress from her goals and fear of failure overwhelmed her, almost resulting in her departure. However, with the support of her mentor and friend, retired Maj. Diane Harper, Maj. Love was able to work through the hardships that came her way.

"She knew what I would be facing, and I had not a clue because I was so naïve. She was able to walk me through some discrimination and racism I faced, because she herself had experienced it. She reminded me why I was an officer. It had everything to do with God.

In her 35 years with The Salvation Army, Maj. Love has been sent to various ministries and locations in the Central Territory. She is currently in her seventh year with the Eastside corps of Kansas and Western Missouri. Aware that few in her past and present communities know how diverse The Salvation Army truly is, Maj. Love hopes to continue setting an example for all people wherever she goes.

“Maj. Diane made it easier for me to walk these steps, so as I’m walking those same steps those that follow me will be able to walk it easier, too.”

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