18 May 2012

WHEN dedicating to God a new mercy seat at International Headquarters (IHQ), General Linda Bond restated the importance of the mercy seat to The Salvation Army. The new mercy seat – made of American maple with simple chrome legs – was given to IHQ by General Shaw Clifton (Retired) and his family in memory of Commissioner Helen Clifton, the former World President of Women's Ministries who was promoted to Glory last year.

The mercy seat will be used as a special place of prayer in the main IHQ meeting room on the ground floor of the building – the venue for the weekly IHQ Family Prayers. There was already a mercy seat in the smaller International Chapel on the first floor.

The Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) led the short meeting, attended by IHQ officers and staff, and visitors including General Clifton, members of Commissioner Helen Clifton's family and Ray and Christine Hedley – Salvationists from Chester-le-Street who had made the mercy seat. The Chief told the congregation that the new mercy seat would be the 'centre of our work and worship'.

Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women's Ministries) prayed that the mercy seat would serve as a reminder that 'we are not a business – we are a people of God'.

The General told the congregation that, to Salvationists, the mercy seat is a place of prayer and also a meeting place. She continued: 'It is a place of prayer for sinners ... and a place of prayer for saints – a place of rededication.' She spoke about the mercy seat being a place to make vows, sharing that she had recently witnessed junior soldiers signing their promises at a mercy seat in Moldova – just as the new territorial leaders in the United Kingdom will make vows at a mercy seat when they are officially installed.

Paying tribute to Commissioner Helen Clifton, the General said that it was easy to make a link between a mercy seat and the commissioner who, she explained, 'knew how to meet with God'.

Asking the congregation to stand for the dedication ceremony the General told her listeners that 'only God can bless this mercy seat the way we want it to be blessed'. She prayed that the new mercy seat will be 'not just a showpiece but a meeting place'.

Report by Kevin Sims
Communications Section
International Headquarters