Hamilton, Ont., is located at the centre of the Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated and heavily industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario. Here gigantic steel mills produce metal for heavy industry and here the Tiger Cats football team of the CFL challenges all comers. And here at the centre of this great Canadian city you will find The Salvation Army.
Commissioners William and Marilyn Francis, territorial leaders of The Salvation Army for Canada and Bermuda, wanted to see firsthand what the Army was doing in Hamilton and the adjacent communities. They therefore set aside three days to visit the Army’s centres of ministry and meet the leaders and supporters there. Major Alf Richardson, Divisional Commander, with the help of officers in the area, organized the visit under the theme: “With Jesus at the Centre.” The visit ran from Friday to Sunday and began with the territorial leaders visiting social service centres and corps in Hamilton and surrounding area.
Hamilton has five corps: Winterberry Heights, Mountain Citadel, Meadowlands Corps, Laotian Corps and Freeway Community Church. Close by are Wyndfield Community Church in Brantford and the Burlington Community Church.
The territorial leaders discovered that the Army’s social services ministries in the city and nearby communities are extensive and address various needs from those of the elderly to young people living on the streets. Among the many social services centers operated by The Salvation Army in the Hamilton area are: the Ellen Osler Home, a halfway house for women coming out of federal penitentiary; the Hamilton Booth Centre, a men’s hostel that provides emergency accommodation for homeless men; the Hamilton Grace Haven, a home for unwed mothers; the Hamilton Suicide Prevention & Resource Centre; the Hamilton Community and Family Services; the Mountberry Adult Day Services for the elderly; the Lawson Ministries for developmentally delayed adults; and the Hamilton Resource Centre for ministries to those involved in Correction and Justice System. With the help of a well-planned itinerary the Commissioners were able to visit most of these ministries.
Friday evening provided the commissioners with an opportunity to meet executive directors, corps officers and friends at an evening dinner aboard the Harbour Queen, a tour boat on Hamilton Harbour. This was an opportunity for the Army to say thank-you to those who work so tirelessly to see that the many ministries are carried out effectively and compassionately.
Saturday morning and afternoon was reserved for children and youth. A Junior Youth Councils and Carnival were organized by Divisional Headquarters. This provided an opportunity for young people to get in on the celebrations and to meet the leaders as well.
A great Celebration of Praise Concert was held at Mountain Citadel on Saturday night. The event began with a slide show of Army ministry units in the Hamilton-Brantford-Burlington area that included a march-in by personnel from the various units. Music for the evening was provided by the Meadowlands Band and the Mountain Citadel Band, both of whom performed masterfully to the glory of God. A massed songster brigade from five corps sang with inspiration, and a timbrel brigade delighted the audience. The variety of music talent in the Army was obvious as a contemporary band led a time of praise and worship and members of the Laotian Corps performed a cultural dance that traditionally celebrated harvest. Commissioner Marilyn Francis sang “The Pearly White City,” and Charles Broughton brought a dramatic presentation of William Booth’s famous speech “I’ll Fight.”
The territorial leaders’ visit concluded on Sunday morning with a United Holiness Meeting held at Redeemer College. Corps in the area came together for the event that featured a massed band of musicians from Burlington, Brantford, and the Laotian Corps led by Jeff Brinson, and a combined songster brigade led by Bev Greenwood and Lindsey Mew.
Rob Higgins, the new Youth Pastor at Burlington, testified of God’s grace to him as he grew up with atheist parents. Five senior soldiers and two adherents were enrolled in the meeting. Grace Isabella May Burse, an infant of one of the new soldiers, was dedicated to God by Commissioner William Francis. Stephanie Oliver sang “Do They See Jesus in Me” as she prepared everyone’s heart to hear the Word of God presented by the Territorial Commander. Commissioner Francis’ message, “Walking in the Spirit,” was a call to holy living amidst a world of chaos.
Top photo: Commissioner William Francis and Major Alf Richardson with clients of Lawson Ministries; middle: Commissioners Francis with a newborn at Grace Haven; bottom: Commissioner Marilyn Francis with staff of Hamilton Booth Centre.