The General Issues Challenges at Old Orchard Beach
SPEAKING at the USA Eastern Territory's annual camp in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, General Linda Bond delivered three stirring messages that challenged Salvationists to embrace the Army's global theme of 'One Army, One, Mission, One Message'. Territorial Commander Commissioner R. Steven Hedgren echoed the General's emphasis when he said: 'From the smallest village in Africa to the toughest urban centre, we want to express a message of love and hope to people in a way that they will clearly understand.'
USA national leaders Commissioners William A. and Nancy Roberts also participated in the meetings during the first weekend of the camp. Spirited vocal music was provided by the International Staff Songsters (ISS), the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command Choir and a united choir. The New York Staff Band (NYSB) accompanied the choirs and ministered with an array of selections that set an arresting tone for worship.
On Saturday, the territorial commander presented Staff Songster Leader Dorothy Nancekievill with a 'bobble-head' doll of General Bond, the first such doll ever made of a serving Salvation Army General.
In her Bible message the General told the congregation that she sees 'an Army that is really convinced of its calling. She also said: 'We need to be an Army of peace and an Army at peace ... We are not a federation of states, or a mixture of territories. We are not a combination of commands, or a multiplicity of divisions. We are an international Salvation Army – we are One Army!'
To begin the holiness meeting on Sunday morning, up to 110 people joined together to form the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Choir. They ministered to the congregation with 'To God be the Glory' and other heartfelt songs.
General Bond spoke about God's grace, warning the congregation: 'Sometimes, we do so much work for the Lord, we lose our intimacy with him.' She challenged Salvationists to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit: 'The power that sanctifies, energises – the power that releases us to the world.'
In response to her call, many people streamed forward to the altar to seal new commitments to the Lord.
On Sunday evening the General paid tribute to Commissioners R. Steven and Judith A. Hedgren, thanking them for their sacrificial ministry as territorial leaders. Because of Commissioner Steven Hedgren's battle with serious health challenges – the Hedgrens will take up new appointments in the USA Southern Territory in September.
'You are a champion!' the General told the territorial commander, citing his valiant battle against disease, his faith for healing and his courage in leading the territory. The audience reacted with a sustained standing ovation.
The response wasn't confined to the Old Orchard Beach pavilion. Because the meeting was live-streamed by the Media Ministries Department, many people were watching on their computers. Salvationists from as far away as Puerto Rico interacted by way of the Good News! Facebook page. One viewer described the General's tribute to the Hedgrens as 'love in action'. Another wrote in Spanish: '¡Amen, maravilloso es Dios!' ['Amen, God is wonderful!'].
The General again brought another challenging message on Sunday evening, making clear the need for every Salvationist to answer the call to win souls. 'If we don't do that,' she said, 'we are not The Salvation Army.'
Even after the benediction, the time of worship was not over and the ISS brought two more stirring songs to close the programme on a high note.
Report by Warren Maye