THE Salvation Army's International Headquarters (IHQ) was abuzz with activity on Saturday 22 September as part of Open House London 2012. More than 400 people heard architects' talks and took part in guided tours of the building. This is almost 100 more than toured the building during the same event in 2010. Many more people took advantage of Café 101 being open and purchased food.
IHQ staff and officers interacted with the visitors both in the cafe and on the tours, with many questions being asked and answered about God, The Salvation Army and the building.
The Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) spoke to all tour groups in his office. Major Beverly Ivany – writer of The Salvation Army's worldwide devotional book Words of Life – signed books, and all visitors were offered free copies of IHQ-produced magazines and books. Hundreds of books were given away. Videos on the work of The Salvation Army were shown prior to each tour commencing. The 'Aim High' Olympic and Paralympic-themed exhibition adjacent to Café 101 was a popular focal point for many people.
During the tours three architects from Sheppard Robson explained the process behind the design and construction of the building including the fact that ruins of the ancient Roman port were uncovered during construction. Some of the recovered artefacts are on loan to the Museum of London while most of the ruins have been encased in concrete and plastic wrap to protect them should future generations want to examine them further.
The tours included visits to the office of the General, the chapel, the round table board room and the rooms under the walkway between St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.
Under two gazebos outside the building, music from The Salvation Army's Croydon Citadel Young People's Band and Singing Company (junior choir) caused thousands of people walking past to stop, watch and listen.
IHQ Chaplain Colonel Annette Gower, who organised the event, described it as 'a day of mission with a difference'. She reports that there was a wonderful team spirit and that the open day provided IHQ personnel with excellent opportunities to connect with the community.
Report by Lieut-Colonel Laurie Robertson
Communications Secretary, Editor-in-Chief and Literary Secretary