THE first overseas visit as international leader of The Salvation Army saw General André Cox – with Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) – share with Salvationists of the Australia Eastern Territory at the Freedom Celebration in Sydney.
The General and Commissioner Cox attended a number of events over the weekend, beginning with a Seniors Morning Tea attended by 240 people. Live music was followed by an interview with the visiting leaders. Commissioner Jan Condon (Territorial President of Women's Ministries) gave a short Bible message.
A Freedom Carnival followed the seniors tea, highlighting services offered by The Salvation Army across the territory. Children enjoyed free rides and there was multicultural food available in a massive food hall.
A number of young Guards and Boys Legion members were privileged to be the first to receive their General’s Awards in person from the General. Following a short presentation of these awards and the recognition of the long service of some leaders, the General and Commissioner Cox were delighted by the children’s musical Spend Awhile on the Nile.
The Freedom Celebration was also an opportunity for the General to launch the new catalogue for 'Gifts that keep on giving' – such as the provision of animals to communities in the developing world – as well as highlighting other projects managed through The Salvation Army International Development department.
An audience of close to 1,200 people attended the Freedom Concert on Saturday night. The atmosphere was energetic throughout an event that featured secular musical artists as well as Salvation Army talent. Colonel Janet Munn (Territorial Secretary for Women's Ministries) encouraged the audience members to find freedom through Christ.
Early on Sunday morning the General joined almost 200 young adults from around the territory at a Young Leaders' Breakfast. Lieut-Colonel Miriam Gluyas spoke to the group about finding God’s purpose in one’s life before the General provided words of encouragement to the young leaders.
The Sunday morning meeting – on the theme 'Freedom through Christ' – was attended by more than 2,500 people. There was an amazing time of worship and recommitment as many people responded to the call of God after the General's Bible address.
'Freedom through Salvation' was celebrated in the Sunday afternoon meeting. The enthusiastic congregation became fully engaged in praise and worship. Commissioner Cox opened the Word of God and – again – people made their way to the place of prayer and recommitment.
The Freedom Concert on Saturday night and the two Sunday meetings were live streamed around the world, with many people reporting back how much they enjoyed being able to participate.
Report by Major Bruce Harmer