21 Jul From the National Commander
Whilst Tracey and I are on furlough over the coming weeks, I would like to keep the Australia One conversation flowing by taking the opportunity to introduce some of our new National Secretaries as guest bloggers on the ‘From the National Commander’ blog. It is my great pleasure for this week’s blog to welcome Captain Lance Jeffrey who is soon to be our National Secretary for Spiritual Life Development.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Founders Day celebrations held at Melbourne’s inner city corps, Melbourne project 614. It was a fantastic day of celebrating the commencement of The Salvation Army, all that we have become, and all that we are becoming. The day included a time of corporate worship, listening to The Salvo Big Band in a café setting over a light meal, and an opportunity to participate in an open forum with our National Leaders.
As we assembled to worship together, the main body of the hall filled up very quickly with many more people directed to sit upstairs in the balcony. People continued to arrive almost throughout the entirety of the service, and it was through observing this constant procession of people that I was most deeply impacted.
Many of those arriving were known to staff, volunteers and congregational members of 614. Some were homeless; some were engaged in other programs run by 614, and others were clearly under the weather, doing it tough and in need of some care. As I sat in the congregation, I watched as a staff member would regularly get up from his seat in front of me, walk to the back of the hall to greet another new arrival. I then watched as he ushered people into the spare seats that were scattered throughout the congregation, bringing them in and helping them to feel welcome and comfortable as if ushering them into the very kingdom of God. Others from the congregation, who having recognised them thought nothing of it to reach out, to say hello, or even wander over to them and welcome them.
At one point a retired officer and staff member seated a particularly dear lady between them, moving their seats closer in towards her, placing their arms around her in embrace, and hers around them in a reciprocal gesture of affection. At the very same time that all of this was going on around me, John Cleary was explaining how Founders Day was chosen as the day The Salvation Army was founded because it was the day William Booth took The Salvation Army out of the tent and to the people – recognising that this best represented the mission of The Salvation Army. In those moments, I felt I had just caught a glimpse of The Salvation Army at its best, as I had just witnessed a true example of what it means to reflect the very heart of God and likeness of Jesus.
Last Friday night I attended the Territorial Creative Arts Camp concert where I witnessed a wonderful group of young people expressing their love for God as they worshipped Him through the use of the various God given gifts they had been encouraged to explore, unwrap, discover and develop during the course of the previous week. I recognised the incredible leaders who had so willingly given up their time to invest in the lives of these young people. Leaders who offered themselves to God to be used to impart something of their gifts, experience, knowledge and expertise to encourage, coach and mentor young people in their gifts and faith before sending them back to their own local corps settings to serve the Lord and his people there. Again, I felt like I had caught a glimpse of The Salvation Army at its best.
The Theme of the camp was “Create”, and on the night a reflection was given of Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
It is my prayer that, as we continue to make the transition towards Australia One, we recognise that it really is about pursuing the life that God is wanting to create within The Salvation Army. That the life God wants to create within The Salvation Army can only be created when He is able to do His creative work in the life of His people.
May we be fully enlivened by God’s creative work in us as individuals and subsequently as a movement. May we, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, work together to see an aligned vision, a united voice, increased innovation, stronger partnerships, better stewardship, and greater impact. May we still yet see The Salvation Army in its fullness, sharing the love of Jesus.