23 January 2017

THE strong community spirit in the Scottish town of Port Glasgow was clearly evident in the welcome given to General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries). The visit came just two days after the General launched The Whole World Mobilising initiative, which aims to encourage every Salvationist, employee and volunteer to be more active in spreading the gospel and helping people in need.

The weekend visit began with the international leaders visiting social and community services, calling at Rodney Street Lifehouse (accommodation for homeless people), William Hunter House Lifehouse, the Eva Burrows Centre, and Greenock Corps (church) and Floating Support Service. The General and Commissioner Cox were deeply impacted by the inspirational life stories they heard.

The international leaders were in West Scotland Division to participate in a divisional rally held in Port Glasgow Town Hall. At a pre-rally reception they met Maurice Golden (Member of the Scottish Parliament and adherent at Govan Corps), local councillors, church ministers and other distinguished guests. They were later joined by the Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Mr Guy Clark. 

The rally was titled Celebrate – Now is the Time. A capacity congregation witnessed the leaders being ‘piped in’ in true Scottish style. A procession of corps flags powerfully demonstrated the potential of the Army in West Scotland.

The people enthusiastically celebrated with inspirational music of the highest quality from the divisional youth band and the 110-strong Ayr Salvation Army Community Choir. 

Kingdom growth was celebrated by welcoming a representative group of new soldiers and adherents. Two moving and challenging testimonies were given, first from Charlie Gorman (Easterhouse), who spoke of his deliverance from gambling and alcoholism, and how a chat with his corps leader in a burger bar eventually led to him coming to faith. Then Kirsty McClean (Cumbernauld) described her faith journey as challenging and 'almost scary at times'. 

After contributions from the worship band and drama group, Commissioner Cox gave the reminder that when people are obedient to the leading of the Lord, he equips them for each given task.

In his message, the General said that rallies such as the one they were attending were intended to energise and empower. He challenged delegates to exemplify quality worship and service, emphasising that worshipping communities must also be serving communities. Many prayerful and heartfelt responses were evident during the singing of ’Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’.

On Sunday morning, the General and Commissioner Cox led worship at Port Glasgow Corps, the home of the General’s private secretary, Captain David Williamson. A message of encouragement from Commissioner Cox, interview testimonies with Captain Williamson’s mother, Ruth Williamson, and Alison Wallace, along with contributions from the band and songsters added to the impact of the meeting.

Emphasising The Whole World Mobilising theme, the General stressed that an army only makes sense when mobilised and that, for The Salvation Army, mobilisation comes from the Holy Spirit.

Later that day the General met with the division’s officers to share a meal and ministry.

On Monday morning, the General was afforded a reception by the chief executive officer of Glasgow Airport, Amanda McMillan OBE, with other invited employees. Introduced by Commissioner Keith Banks, Glasgow Airport Chaplain, the General expressed his appreciation for the reception and his thanks to airport staff for the time and effort given to collecting donations of items to support the Army's community outreach programmes in local corps. 

Ahead of the visit, divisional leaders Majors Raelton and Lynn Gibbs worked closely with the public relations and communications office to create a high-profile media campaign, including an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald. There was also positive media coverage in the Evening Times, Greenock Telegraph, Rutherglen Reformer and Paisley Daily Express - the total reach of which was around 200,000 people throughout Scotland. 

The General told the Sunday Herald that The Salvation Army was marching into the 21st century with a new Mobilising website to boost frontline work. 'Our roots are Victorian,' he said, 'but we live in the realities of today’s world and increasingly around the globe technology is there and can be used. We have created an interactive website and there are so many different ways in which we can be relevant to communities.'

Based on a report by Commissioner Keith Banks

Tags: Europe, The General