BIG RAPIDS — After four years in Big Rapids, Salvation Army Lieutenants Chris and Brianne Karlin are packing up and preparing to head to their next assignment in Muskegon.

The move is a first for the couple, as their initial posting was Big Rapids, so they’ve not experienced reassignment before.

“You know as a Salvation Army officer that you’re going to move every four to seven years,” Chris said. “Sometimes, the duration is shorter and sometimes it’s longer, depending on your skill set and where your talents are needed next.”

All moves throughout the organization are planned in April and decisions are finalized in May, Chris explained.

“You get a phone call telling you where you’re going to be moving to,” he said. “At that point, Brianne and I both started crying — we both love Big Rapids, but you know moving is part of what you signed up for.”

Moving isn’t as difficult as it might be for most people because the Salvation Army owns the house, furniture and vehicle the Karlins used during their time in Big Rapids. The couple only needs to pack their clothes, personal items and any furniture they purchased themselves, such as their son’s crib.

“We will have our final service here on June 25, and we’re inviting anyone who wants to join us,” Chris said. “We’ll have a potluck afterward and after that, we’ll load up in our vehicle and head to Muskegon.”

The church service begins at 11 a.m. and will be located in the sanctuary at 325 Linden St., Big Rapids.

While physically moving may be easier, the emotional and mental aspects are still difficult, the Karlins said.

“Big Rapids is the place we call home,” Chris said. “The community has wrapped its arms around us as people and with our programs.”

“We’ve bowled in a couple of leagues, got our first pet and had our first child here,” Brianne added. “We will always call Big Rapids home.”

Under their leadership, the Salvation Army office in Big Rapids expanded the programs it offered and increased church attendance on Sundays.

“When we got here, there were four church members and the office didn’t have a lot of programs,” Chris said. “Now we average close to 30 people at Sunday services.”

Programs established with the Karlins’ help include the after-school community center, Fresh Start Baby Pantry and Tools for Schools, as well as the opening of the Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center in October 2016. In addition to growing the number of people at church services, the children’s summer camp and Angel Tree programs expanded during the past four years.

“It will be particularly interesting when we get to Muskegon,” Brianne said. “They have many existing programs. We’re walking into a place where we’ll have to find our niche — here, we created it.”

Taking over from the Karlins will be Envoys Ed and Theresa Hoskins, who have been serving as corps administrators in Muskegon for the past two months following the reassignment of the Muskegon leadership. The Hoskins’ first Sunday in Big Rapids will be July 2.