Staff from Territorial Headquarters and the Central Division welcomed Commissioner Barry Swanson, Chief of the Staff, and Commissioner Sue Swanson, World Secretary for Women’s Ministries, to Wellington on Friday 26 November.
Commissioner Barry Swanson is second-in-command of the worldwide Salvation Army and chief administrative officer for International Headquarters in London. He and Commissioner Sue Swanson were previously the territorial leaders of the USA Central Territory. They have been Salvation Army officers since 1978 and have served in a wide range of roles. Commissioner Barry Swanson holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and Commissioner Sue Swanson has a degree in social welfare.
For the first time, THQ staff carried out the powhiri to greet their international guests. John Paku from the Information Services Group gave a brief speech in Maori, which he translated into English, honouring the couple as ‘great pillars of this church’. John said it was a ‘privilege and honour’ to take part in the powhiri in this way.
Territorial Commander Commissioner Don Bell introduced the Swansons, noting that the responsibilities of their roles meant a busy travel schedule. They had just been in Japan, where they had served previously, and would soon travel to Australia. ‘The Lord has appointed them into their roles and they’re here to share their hearts,’ said Commissioner Bell.
The Chief of the Staff expressed pleasure at being able to visit New Zealand. ‘It’s great to be with you and it’s great to enter your culture as we have this morning,’ he said.
In a brief Bible message, he referred to Ephesians 1:13-14 and emphasised the importance of people finding their identity in Christ. He explained that when he and his wife shifted from the United States to the United Kingdom, they were required to register their fingerprints for travel purposes. But on a recent trip, his prints weren’t recognised. A customs officer ‘reassured’ him that this was to do with aging—the ridges on his fingerprints were no longer as pronounced. This had caused him to reflect on the implications of losing one’s identity.
‘Who are you, who do you say you are if your identity is somehow lost? It made me so appreciative that my identity in Christ cannot be lost,’ said Commissioner Barry Swanson. There was eternal security in that relationship, which was sealed by the Holy Spirit of God.
In his closing words, the Chief of the Staff thanked people for their work to support The Salvation Army’s mission. ‘As you labour for the Lord—as you serve him—recognise that you do it for the Lord and in the Lord’s name.’
Maori Ministry leaders Aux-Captains Joe and Nan Patea presented the Swansons with a gift from the territory that included a beautiful painting of a Maori koru by Major Jenny Carey.
Lieut-Colonel Bronwyn Buckingham ended the brief morning service by leading everyone in singing the National Anthem, reflecting that the nation remained united in grief after the death of the 29 miners at Pike River Mine.
That afternoon, the Swansons visited Booth College of Mission where they shared in a time of worship and met first and second year cadets and training staff.