Diane Shingleton said she was 11 when her mother told her that God had something special in store for her.
Three years later, she felt the Lord calling her out of the Salvation Army church in Grafton, W.Va., and into his service.
Today, she is Captain Shingleton, 29, new commander of the Salvation Army office in Glen Burnie. She replaces Diane Johnson, who held the post for two years before leaving to prepare for three years in Russia as a missionary.
Captain Shingleton, who previously was in Frederick, has spent her first days in Glen Burnie meeting the staff and learning how to navigate her way to work from her Brooklyn Park home.
She said she hasn't had time to formulate her own a plan but does "look forward to serving the Lord here and doing my best ministry."
An officer's life in the Christian organization demands a willingness to move around and to go where ordered. Besides Frederick, Captain Shingleton, who is single, has held posts in Parkersburg, W.Va., and Hagerstown.
"We have a saying in the Army, 'Man can not send me where God can not use me,' and I believe that," said Captain Shingleton who left left her small, rural hometown in 1986 to begin preparing herself for a life in the Salvation Army.
She spent a year in a Baltimore Salvation Army program, then attended the Salvation Army's two-year-college in Atlanta.
She worked in youth and children's programs in past appointments. In Frederick, she ran an after-school program where children received tutoring.
"I want to still work with young people, as well as people in the community and the church," said Captain Shingleton, who added that she is nervous about preaching to a new congregation.
Melanie Thompson, office manager for six years, has tried to allay her fears by telling her, "You'll do great." Ms. Thompson guides the new officers and helps them get settled. She teaches them and they teach her, she said.
Captain Shingleton said the church and her mother, Louise Shingleton, were the teachers of her youth.
"My mother had a big influence on me," Captain Shingleton said. "She was the one who was the leader in the family, and she took me to church quite often."
"The church was kind of like a haven for me to come into and express my feeling to grow," she added.
When she wondered what to do with her life, women of the church assured her that the answer would come through prayer. She said her calling "was like a voice speaking to me through prayer."