General Shaw Clifton (pictured above) proudly waved The Salvation Army flag as Salvationists from Canada and Bermuda sang the Founder’s Song, O Boundless Salvation, at the close of the Atlantic Congress and Commissioning weekend. Held in St. John’s, the congress was hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador, Maritime and Bermuda Divisions, with the theme Destiny. General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton, international leaders of The Salvation Army, gave leadership to the congress, supported by Commissioners William W. and Marilyn D. Francis, territorial leaders.
Throughout the congress weekend, Salvationists were encouraged to embrace and secure their eternal destiny. General Clifton challenged those present to question what a holy life looks like and to seek it with all their heart. “We are a distinctive part of the church,” he said. “God raised us up to be like this. Thank you for your testimony and for your holy courage.”
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Atlantic Congress and Commissioning
God is not yet finished with The Salvation Army,” challenged Lt-Colonel Alf Richardson, divisional commander, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, as he welcomed Salvationists to the Atlantic Congress and Commissioning weekend. “He is calling us to embrace our destiny.”
Held in St. John’s, N.L., the congress was hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador, Maritime, and Bermuda Divisions with the theme Destiny. General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton, international leaders of The Salvation Army, gave leadership to the congress, supported by Commissioners William W. and Marilyn D. Francis, territorial leaders.
Also in attendance were Canadian officers Commissioners Max and Lennie Feener, territorial leaders of the U.S.A. Southern Territory, Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan, international director for social justice, and Colonels Robert and Marguerite Ward, territorial leaders of the Pakistan Territory.
Our Hope for Tomorrow
Children and youth were the focus of the Friday night welcome meeting. Following a prelude by the Newfound Brass Divisional Youth Band, the General and Commissioner Clifton, Commissioners Francis and Colonels Floyd and Tracey Tidd, chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries, entered the congress hall individually, each leader accompanied by a junior soldier. Army youth waving flags lined the front of the stage.
Angela Pope, a young Salvationist from St. John’s Temple, sang the Ode to Newfoundland, and then Captain Mark Hall, territorial youth secretary, prayed for the children and youth of the territory.
After Commissioner William Francis introduced the international leaders, Commissioner Helen Clifton spoke of the effective witness of her grandson, Hudson, who after becoming a junior soldier immediately sought to have his friend from school enrolled as well. “May it always be so,” she challenged, “one generation growing the next.”
In addition to a massed children’s choir, young people participated in a timbrel brigade, dance troupe and dramatic presentation.
In his challenge to young and older Salvationists, General Clifton addressed the need for holy courage. As he illustrated the story of David trying on King Saul’s armour, the General invited Jaxon Mayo, aged 10, to join him on stage and then put his Army tunic on him. The General shared how, through the influence of courageous Salvationists, the Army keeps expanding into new areas around the world. “How do you get holy courage?” posed the General. “On your knees in prayer.”
When the General finished preaching, many Salvationists gathered around the congress mercy seat, which was designed in the shape of a cross. The service concluded with a tribute to youth workers.
On Saturday morning, a Gathering of Women was held at St. John’s Temple, led by Commissioner Helen Clifton. The women were challenged to make a difference in their homes, churches and communities. A Men’s Celebration was held at St. John’s Citadel, under the leadership of Colonel Floyd Tidd, who encouraged those in attendance to be godly men.
Following the gatherings, the General and Commissioner Clifton, accompanied by Salvation Army representatives, attended a luncheon with the lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Honourable John C. Crosbie.
Later that afternoon, a Celebration Carnival was held at Bowring Park. Jumping castles, face painting and refreshments were offered to community children. TransMission, musicians from the U.S.A. Southern Territory, led praise and worship from the bandstand.
Commissioning and Ordination
On Saturday evening, 19 cadets from the Prayer Warriors Session were commissioned and ordained by General Clifton. As he commissioned the cadets individually, the General read a Scripture verse specifically chosen for them by the CFOT staff. After the newly commissioned lieutenants sang I’m in His Hands, Commissioner Helen Clifton offered a prayer of dedication.
After the solemnity of the commissioning and ordination ceremony, it was thrilling to see the lieutenants re-enter the congress hall to the roar of the crowd. Commissioner William Francis presented the lieutenants with their first appointments as Salvation Army officers. The children of the lieutenants stepped forward with their parents, many of them offering the commissioner the traditional Army salute.
Speaking on behalf of his session-mates, Lieutenant David Bond thanked the CFOT staff and those who had supported the Prayer Warriors throughout their training. “We take heart that we do not do this alone,” he said.
After having trained in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, Lieutenants Hye-Young Cho and Saeng-Yon Lee will return to Korea for their first appointments. The territorial commander bestowed on them his blessing and encouragement as they journey home.
Following an invitation by Major Beverly Ivany, then secretary for candidates, a number of Salvationists came forward to signal their desire to become Salvation Army officers.
After a benediction by Commissioner Marilyn Francis, the St. John’s Temple Band provided a postlude.
Later that evening, TransMission led a youth bash at St. John’s Temple.
A Holy Life
The Sunday morning holiness meeting began with a prelude by the Corner Brook Temple Band. Other musical highlights included praise and worship sessions led first by the St. John’s Temple worship team and then later by TransMission, and the singing of the Congress Chorus.
Commissioner William Francis presented two awards to Newfoundland Salvationists. Known affectionately as Mrs. Salvation Army, Sadie Butler from the Trout River Corps received the Certificate of Appreciation for her many years of invaluable service.
Major (Dr.) Dawn Howse, a Canadian officer and doctor, received the Certificate in Recognition of Exceptional Service, which is the highest award given in the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Major Howse spent more than two decades serving at Howard Hospital and Tshelanyemba Hospital in the Zimbabwe Territory.
CSM Edward Lewis from Cedar Hill Corps, Bermuda, offered his testimony. “I want to share how God has been faithful to me throughout my life,” he said, as he outlined the many ways that God had redeemed him through the witness of his grandmother. “I want to leave my kids with the same destiny.”
As he preached, General Clifton challenged delegates to question what a holy life looks like and to seek it with all their hearts. “Love one another as Jesus has loved you,” he encouraged. “We are sanctified by his blood and filled with his love.”
The General also celebrated the distinctiveness of the Army. He stressed the importance of the holiness meeting, the Army uniform, the songbook and the mercy seat. “God raised us up to be like this,” he said. “Our Lord stands waiting to enfold us in his love.”
During the time of response and commitment that followed, Salvationists approached the mercy seat as they prayerfully sang All There is of Me.
A New Life
The salvation meeting featured musical contributions from the St. John’s Citadel Band, the Congress Chorus, TransMission, the Trinity Bay South Corps worship team and a cadet quartet.
After the new lieutenants and cadets from the Ambassadors of Holiness Session entered the congress hall, Commissioner William Francis acknowledged the summer assignments of the second-year cadets. “Revival is in the air,” he said. “God is going to do a new thing in Newfoundland and Labrador, Bermuda and the Maritimes.”
“It is good to see the Army alive and well during these difficult times for the Church,” said Commissioner Helen Clifton. “You are still thriving and witnessing. We thank God for the chance to be here. Please go on from strength to strength in these future days.”
Accepted Candidate Lance Gillard of Kentville, N.S., spoke of being freed from the bondage of alcoholism. “God is so good,” he said, “and can do so much if you let him.”
Kay Bungay of LaScie, N.L., shared how God had supported her through difficult times. “He has always been there for me,” she said, “and done wonderful things in my life.”
Following their moving stories, General Clifton urged the corps officers in attendance to dedicate time in their future meetings for testimonies. “Let the people speak,” he said. “This is how God raised us up. There is nothing like a powerful personal testimony.”
In his closing words, the General urged Salvationists to secure their eternal destiny. “God’s Spirit has been touching, whispering, using the secret places of our hearts in this meeting,” he said. “Will you give him your all?”
Then, as Salvationists moved to the mercy seat, the General was joined by other senior Army leaders as he prayed over those kneeling before God.
As the Atlantic Congress and Commissioning weekend came to a close, General Shaw Clifton proudly waved The Salvation Army flag as Salvationists from Canada and Bermuda sang the Founder’s song, O Boundless Salvation.
“I’ve been so blessed by the singing and worship,” said Annette Frost, corps treasurer, Spryfield Community Church, Halifax. “I have so much to share and tell when I return home.”
“It was great to come together and gather with other Salvationists,” added Calvin Ming, bandmaster, North Street Citadel, Hamilton, Bermuda. “We heard the inspiring words of the General, the worship was meaningful and touching, and we experienced the touch of God’s love. We’ve been challenged that there is more work to be done and people in need of salvation. We go forward in his strength.”
“There was a great balance of contemporary and traditional worship,” said Matthew Osmond, St. John’s Citadel, N.L. “The youth bash was loud and fantastic. It was nice to see the youth so into the worship. We leave with a renewed spirit, a new image of the Army and the experience of hearing the General.”