29 June 2017

'I'M an optimist,' General André Cox told Salvationists and friends from the Norway, Iceland and the Færoes Territory, 'I believe our best days are ahead of us.' The General reminded delegates to the territory's annual congress in Oslo, Norway, that for this to become true, Salvationists need to be out in the community as witnesses and proclaimers of the gospel, loving and serving people. 

The extensive congress programme started with the commissioning of six cadets on Thursday, and continued through to Sunday evening. The programme took full advantage of the situation that can be found in Oslo in June – no matter how far into the night an event lasts, it is still daylight when it ends. And when Salvationists from the three countries of this far-stretched territory gather for a congress, they tend to keep going!

From early morning until late into the night, the congress was a celebration of fellowship and many blessings, with inspiring, thought-provoking and challenging messages from the General and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries).

The messages brought by the international leaders were significantly supported by vibrant praise, powerful testimony, prayer, Scripture readings and a variety of musical contributions from groups and soloists. Throughout the weekend the Holy Spirit was present. In every meeting there was a quick and spontaneous response as many people moved forward to pray at the mercy seat.

Special guests for the congress were Regent Hall Songsters and the male-voice group Four Hymn (both from the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland). Their musical offerings were a blessing and inspiration throughout the congress, as were contributions from the teenagers in the worship band Kongsgata (from Stavanger), the M-band, the territorial band and Oslo Temple Band. A highlight for many was when Four Hymn and Kongsgata joined forces to lead the congregation in praise during the final meeting of the congress.

On Friday morning, the General visited the Royal Palace for a private audience with King Harald V of Norway, accompanied by Commissioner Cox and Territorial Commander Commissioner William Cochrane. Later, the international leaders met with the territory's active and retired officers. 

The Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, visited the congress on Saturday and took part in a special meeting, Celebrate Good Times, which revealed the wide range of Salvation Army work and ministry through video presentations and interviews. Lay employees and volunteers of The Salvation Army were especially invited to this meeting. The mayor spoke of the importance of volunteer work and her own involvement as a volunteer for The Salvation Army and other groups. She has already signed up to be a volunteer at the Homeless World Cup, which The Salvation Army is hosting in Oslo from 29 August to 5 September, and she urged everyone present to do the same. 

The congress also included a march of witness, women’s breakfast, meeting for seniors, seminars and several concerts. A youth congress and a children's congress ran parallel with the live-streamed public meetings until, in the final meeting on Sunday, all generations joined in a creative and engaging afternoon for all the family where they were encouraged by Commissioner Cox not to leave the congress without accepting the assurance that Jesus lives in his followers.

Report by Andrew Hannevik

Tags: Europe, The General