GENERAL CHALLENGES CONGREGATIONS IN SWITZERLAND

// 16 APRIL 2013 //

DURING a three-day visit to Switzerland, General Linda Bond implored Salvationists and friends to live holy lives. While in the country the General led officers meetings in Berne, preached at a number of events, met with ecumenical leaders, gave several interviews and visited a Salvation Army hostel in Zurich.

At a public service in Berne Cathedral, the General encouraged the congregation of some 700 to stand up for Christ. Music items by a united choir from Thun and Berne Corps Band enhanced the service.

At the traditional Bernese Museum Night event later that day, the General addressed a large crowd at the Salvation Army museum. Visitors asked many questions, including some about her everyday activities as General and how she had been elected.

On Saturday the General attended the Salvation Army congress in Payerne, which is in French-speaking Switzerland. She called upon the congregation of around 600 to pray for awakening and told them: 'The Salvation Army should be a place of purity where all people find acceptance.'

Many people present responded to their international leader's call to put things right with God.

One of the music, song and dance groups that took part in the congress was the Salvation Army group 'Takasa' (formerly known as 'Heilsarmee'), which will represent Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest in May. The group performed its song, 'You and Me'.

In the afternoon, at a meeting with church leaders, the General spoke about the the challenges faced by the Body of Christ in the 21st century, particularly secularism and financial restrictions in times of crisis. She encouraged the leaders representing six denominations and church associations to embrace the vision of each denomination being part of a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece is needed to complete the picture. In a question-and-answer time she emphasised the need to address human needs holistically. 'However,' she added, 'we must not allow our social work to be isolated from our witnessing Christ and will forego financial support from governments where it prevents us from proclaiming the Gospel.'

During the evening youth event General Bond encouraged her listeners to dedicate their whole life to Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of the meeting at Zurich Central Corps on Palm Sunday, the young people greeted the General with a rap: 'We will, we will greet you'. The General thanked the young people and told them: 'Don't let anyone tell you that you are the Army of tomorrow – you are the Army of today!' Zurich Central Corps Band and a united choir also took part.

In her address the General shared a vision of a Salvation Army that honours the Lord by being pure and holy, free of prejudices and open to all of humanity. She called upon the congregation to adopt a holy lifestyle.

Many people responded to her call to rededicate their lives to God and knelt at the place of prayer.

After the service, the General attended a reception at the nearby Salvation Army hostel where she met representatives of the Zurich city authorities, the churches and the media. She also talked with officers and centre managers from Zurich.

Report by Florina German

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