15 June 2017

NEARLY 3,500 Salvationists and friends were encouraged in their faith and inspired to pursue mission at the USA Central Territory's Forward Together Congress. Led by General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women’s Ministries), the weekend featured exhilarating meetings and activities for all ages that celebrated God’s blessings and the territory’s progress.

The congress was filled with glorious music, including multiple performances by British Salvationist singing sensation Charlie Green and some of the territory’s premier groups, such as the world-renowned Chicago Staff Band (CSB), a territorial youth band and youth chorus, and the territorial praise band, The Singing Company. Some groups were formed especially for the event, including a united singing company of more than 250 children who represented every division. Many of the meetings featured the territory’s Bill Booth Theater Company which – with the CSB – gave a breathtaking preview of a Broadway-style musical, A Long Way Off, being written by Joe Caddy and Phil Laeger to debut next year. 

Territorial Commander Commissioner Paul R. Seiler presented two Certificates in Recognition of Exceptional Service. The first was given to David Brooksbank, long-time corps sergeant-major (CSM) at the Chicago-suburban Norridge Citadel, one of the territory’s largest and most innovative corps. He spoke of his reliance on prayer, saying: 'Time spent in prayer is crucial in order to remain passionate about bringing Christ to the people and the people to Christ.' The second certificate was given to Major Richard Justvig for his post-retirement service as CSM at Gateway Citadel Corps (church) in St. Louis, Missouri, and his role in developing a vital programme of healing and restoration for former officers.

In stirring Bible messages throughout the congress, the General urged delegates to be full participants in the great integrated mission to which God has called The Salvation Army – proclaiming the gospel and meeting human needs without discrimination. It is in this age of monumental change and political upheaval, he said, and in the reality of our everyday lives, that we are called to have faith and to boldly step out with bright hope for our world. He proclaimed: 'The world needs a strong, mobilised Salvation Army.'

Sunday included the commissioning and ordination of the Joyful Intercessors Session of cadets, followed later by the appointments meeting in which the new lieutenants were given their first appointments. At the end of the commissioning meeting, 120 people moved to the platform in response to the call for officership – a significant breakthrough for the territory.

Other highlights of a varied and inspiring programme included the official retirement of territorial leaders Commissioners Paul R. and Carol Seiler; a record World Services/Self-Denial ingathering totalling US$9.1 million; an upbeat youth rally with the General and Commissioner Cox; an early-morning 5,000-metre 'Run for the World' with more than 200 participants – including the international and territorial leaders; and an afternoon replete with picnics, concerts and a colourful Global Village primarily featuring countries benefitting from the territory’s '20 New Corps' initiative to build or renovate corps around the world to better enable the mission.

Report by Elizabeth Kinzie

Tags: Americas and Caribbean