ESCORTED to the platform by two of Canada's world-famous 'Mounties' – officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) were greeted with enthusiastic applause as they joined thousands of Salvationists at the Canada and Bermuda Territorial Congress 2014 in Mississauga, Ontario.
The world leaders had arrived a few days ahead of the congress, giving them the opportunity to tour frontline Army ministries, including an English-as-a-second-language programme at Toronto Harbour Light (alcohol/drug treatment centre) and Gateway Linens, a social enterprise programme that helps those experiencing homelessness to get back on their feet. They also participated in a staff reception and devotional meeting at territorial headquarters.
Congress events began with an officer family event on Thursday and Officers Councils on Friday morning. In the evening the Hershey Centre was filled with delegates who gathered for the welcome meeting which took the theme 'One Army'. A poignant moment saw representatives of Canada's First Nations, cloaked in traditional garments, speak words of welcome and present gifts to the General and Territorial Commander Commissioner Brian Peddle.
Acknowledging the importance and place of children and young people in The Salvation Army, a number of congress events were planned just for them, including Sunday morning's Kids' Church and a youth concert by contemporary Christian musician Tim Neufeld. 'As I look around the room,' said the General at the concert, 'I see the potential not only to change Canada, but to change the world.'
The next day, delegates participated in a prayer breakfast and workshops on topics that included Salvation Army doctrine, evangelism, women in leadership and a special 'Tell the General' workshop for young people, where the General answered their questions about life, faith and The Salvation Army. The international leaders also showed their fun side when visiting the kids programme, joining in with a time of song and dance.
On Saturday afternoon, 17 cadets of the Disciples of the Cross Session and one auxiliary-captain were ordained and commissioned by the territorial commander. 'They have entered into a covenant relationship with God and that first step of their journey has begun,' Commissioner Peddle told the congregation.
Later that day, thousands joined the international leaders for an evening of praise and worship, under the theme 'Celebrating One Mission', which showcased the exciting things that are happening on the frontlines of ministry across the territory. A musical highlight was North York Temple Band's presentation of 'Abundance', accompanied by London Citadel Timbrels.
During Sunday morning's holiness meeting, which took the theme 'One Message', the General challenged Salvationists to take what they had seen and heard throughout the congress weekend and to use it for God's glory. 'What's going to change in your life because you came here?' he asked. 'How are you going to respond?'
Many people accepted his invitation to kneel at the mercy seat in rededication of their lives to God's service.
In the afternoon, Salvationists gathered for a 'sending out' service, the final meeting of the congress. In her Bible message, Commissioner Cox spoke about the importance of bearing witness to God's goodness. 'We have to say what the Lord has done,' she exclaimed.
Attention then turned to Boundless – The Whole World Redeeming, The Salvation Army's International Congress which will take place in London, UK, in July 2015. As the congregation enthusiastically sang 'O Boundless Salvation!', the General carried a Boundless 2015 flag and led a 'Hallelujah Wind-up', with a large crowd of International Congress delegates following behind him, each waving a smaller version of the flag.
Report by Pamela Richardson
Canada and Bermuda Territory