10 Jul | 2012
'One Army on fire! One Mission of love! One Message of grace!' enthused General Linda Bond to the hundreds of Salvationists and friends gathered for the public welcome meeting of the 2012 International Conference of Leaders (ICL) in Toronto, Canada.
Thunderous applause and music from the Canadian Staff Band greeted the 127 delegates from around the Army world as they entered the auditorium to take their place on the platform.
'Welcome to this historic occasion!' said Commissioner Brian Peddle (Territorial Commander, Canada and Bermuda), as he greeted those gathered and officially welcomed the delegates to Canada.
Under the leadership of the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women's Ministries), the meeting highlighted the internationalism of the Army as representative delegates took part. Music was provided by the staff band, the Salvation Army Korean Community Church Songsters and the Ontario Central East Divisional Youth Chorus.
In his testimony, Lieut-Colonel Xuyen Tam Pho (Officer Commanding, Hong Kong and Macau) shared his past experiences as a Vietnamese refugee and spoke about how God had remained faithful to him. Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek (Territorial President of Women's Ministries, Finland and Estonia) testified about being used by God since she gave her life to him in her teens.
In a particularly poignant moment, a number of the international leaders offered prayer for the Army in their native languages, including Lingala and Spanish.
A highlight of the evening was the opportunity for local Salvationists to warmly welcome home their fellow Canadian, General Bond. Following a prolonged and heartfelt round of applause, the General expressed her pleasure at being in Canada.
Using The Salvation Army's International Vision – One Army, One Mission, One Message – as the basis for her address, the General encouraged the congregation to be united as they unashamedly declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. 'A God-raised, Spirit-filled Army is an Army on fire for the Lord,' she said.
In response to the General's invitation, delegates, officers, retired officers and Salvationists of all ages went forward to rededicate their lives to the service of God. As the area surrounding the mercy seat became filled, General Bond encouraged people to kneel by their chairs or to stand as a declaration of commitment.
The meeting concluded on a note of praise as the congregation sang 'I'll Go in the Strength of the Lord.' With God's help, The Salvation Army will move into the future as One Army on fire, carrying out One Mission of love and sharing One Message of grace.
The event was viewed online by more than 2,000 people. The online broadcast of the event is still available at www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/icl.
Report by Pamela Richardson