22 December 2023

Celebrations at the 50th anniversary of Fiji Division

The International Leaders joined The Salvation Army’s New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory for an exciting month of celebrations, including the 50th anniversary of the Fiji Division and the ordination, commissioning and appointment of six new lieutenants in New Zealand.  

The first of the celebrations commenced on Friday 8 December, with General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham officially welcomed back to their home country. The welcome was part of a graduation ceremony for the Defenders of Justice Session and was held in Wellington, New Zealand. 

General Lyndon Buckingham said, ‘A stirring pōwhiri [Māori welcome] began the evening, with our children and grandchildren included in the event, adding to the joy of being home again.’

New lieutenants

On Saturday 9 December, the General and Commissioner Bronwyn were present for the ordination, commissioning and appointment of six new lieutenants. The General addressed the lieutenants, thanking them for ‘every “yes” given in surrender of their will to God’s purposes and plans for their lives’. Commissioner Bronwyn shared the words of Colossians 1:9-12, adding that she hoped ‘the Spirit would fill each of them with knowledge, wisdom and understanding’. 

The response that followed saw friends and whānau (family) flock to the front to wrap themselves around the new officers and to offer prayers of support and words of encouragement.

ewly commissioned lieutenants Andy and Tamsyn Connor perform the haka, with second year cadets in the background
Newly commissioned lieutenants and second year cadets perform the haka

Fiji Division celebrates 50th anniversary

The following weekend, the General and Commissioner Bronwyn, along with a delegation of senior leaders from New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa, travelled to Fiji for The Salvation Army Fiji Division’s 50th anniversary.

The full weekend of celebrations commenced on Friday 15 December, and was held in Suva, Fiji’s capital city. The anniversary had an overarching message of ‘Marching On: 50 Years Strong’ and followed the theme of ‘Founded on Faith, Inspiring by Hope, Serving in Love’.

General Buckingham shared that there were ‘powerful testimonies, prayer in many languages, joyous worship and cultural performances over a full weekend of festivities’. 

The ceremony included the General enrolling 21 new soldiers, which was a source of great joy. ‘I’m delighted that the first soldiers I enrol as General are from my home territory!’ he said.

March of Witness in Suva

A highlight of the weekend was the ‘March of Witness’ that took place on Saturday through downtown Suva. A tropical downpour did not deter the hundreds of Salvationists present, who marched, cheered and sang in the rain.

March of Witness in Suva, Fiji
March of Witness in Suva, Fiji

As the General preached his final message, encouraging ‘Fijian Salvationists to keep going for another fifty years’, he concluded by asking the congregation, ‘Are you with me?’ In response, hundreds of Salvationists, young and old, moved to the front of the arena to stand with the General in a public declaration of commitment to the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army in Fiji. 
The General and Commissioner Bronwyn have now travelled back to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends over the festive period. If you haven’t already, you can listen to the General’s Christmas message here.

IHQ Communications

Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, The General, News