MORE than 6,700 Salvationists of the Ghana Territory gathered in Accra to celebrate – under the leadership of General Linda Bond – the 90th anniversary of Salvation Army ministry in Ghana. The anniversary weekend also included the commissioning of 30 new lieutenants – the largest session in the history of the territory. There were no halls large enough for the number of people who wanted to join in the celebrations so the events were held under canopies in the training college campus.
The General was greeted at the airport by officers and cadets with the traditional Ghanaian greeting, 'Akwaaba', and a surprise rendition of the song 'One Army, One Mission, One Message'. The Kotobabi Corps Band played the Canadian national anthem.
The following morning the General travelled to Duakwa to unveil a plaque adjacent to the newly-refurbished tomb of Amoako Atta King Hudson who, as a lieutenant, was appointed by General Bramwell Booth to 'open fire' for The Salvation Army in his home town in Ghana (then called the Gold Coast). Before a meeting in the corps hall, where the General spoke about what God had achieved through the dedication of one man, the international leader had been cordially welcomed to the town by the Duakwa Traditional Chief. At the nearby Salvation Army health centre the General met mothers and newborn babies, greeted patients at the rehabilitation centre and concluded her trip by visiting the new outpatients department building.
Three consecutive rallies – women's, men's and youth – took place on Friday. The women's rally included the introduction of a territorial women’s choir and a women’s brass band. Most people – including the General – wore traditional costume for the rallies, made from the territorial anniversary cloth.
During the youth rally the General was presented with a painting by senior soldier Kofi Ronald, a resident of Begoro Rehabilitation Centre. Because he has cerebral palsy, Kofi paints holding a brush in his mouth.
The evening event included a pre-commissioning drama by cadets of the Friends of Christ Session and a special welcome to more than 150 Salvationist delegates from neighbouring Togo, which is part of the Ghana Territory.
The mercy seat was crowded as many responded to the altar call and dedicated themselves for future service.
On Saturday the General commissioned and ordained 30 cadets in a solemn and dignified ceremony. She challenged them in the name of Jesus Christ to continue to follow his call.
Later in the day the solemnity of the morning was replaced by exuberant jubilation as Territorial Commander Colonel Charles Swansbury announced the new lieutenants' appointments. Members of the congregation, family and friends – along with those from the corps receiving the new officers – spontaneously rushed forward to embrace the lieutenants.
Early on Sunday morning more than 4,000 Salvationists and representatives from Salvation Army sections marched along the main road towards the college, saluting the General and the territorial leaders. At the conclusion of the march past the international leader was escorted to the college campus behind billowing corps flags and the territorial band and songsters – resplendent in new maroon tunics – in the largest and most extensive Salvation Army march in Ghana within living memory.
The anniversary celebration meeting was introduced by a recitation by junior soldier Benedicta Bediako Tawiah, dressed in traditional costume, of an ode about The Salvation Army's early development in Ghana.
The meeting was being recorded for a later national broadcast which will happen ahead of the national elections so the General challenged those present to vote with their conscience.
The meeting included an acknowledgement of more than 90 new senior and junior soldiers being enrolled during the anniversary year and a celebration cake cut jointly by the General and a 90-year-old daughter of the Ghanain Salvation Army pioneer Lieutenant King Hudson.
The Hon Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister for Food and Agriculture – a relative of Lieutenant Hudson and speaking on behalf of President John Dramani Mahama – highly commended the Army for its past achievements and present activities. The Tema Traditional Chief also spoke.
In her Bible message the General talked candidly about the need to live holy lives. In response to her words of challenge and prayer that God would bring about a great revival within The Salvation Army in Ghana, many hundreds of people flocked from beneath the canopies to throng the mercy seat. The General joined those kneeling on the ground in dedication.
Shortly before leaving the country General Bond met the officers of the territory in council, including 105-year-old Mrs Brigadier Gladys Nyarkor.
Throughout the weekend Salvationists danced for joy within the congress arena at every opportunity, the many thousands of rhythmical footsteps raising a dust cloud as the air reverberated to the pulsating heartbeat of an Army celebrating its history but determinedly marching onward.