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Aug26FriThe Salvation Army Eastern Europe Territory celebrated its 20th anniversary of the reopening of Army ministry in the former Soviet Union August 26, 2011
More than 700 Salvationists and friends from around the Eastern Europe Territory gathered in Kiev, Ukraine, on the last weekend in May to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the reopening of Salvation Army ministry in the former Soviet Union.
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Special guests for the occasion were the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women's Ministries). Among those who joined the celebrations were officers and others who served during the early years of the re-establishment of the Army's work in eastern Europe.
Under the theme 'Celebrate the Past ... Claim the Future', territorial leaders Colonels Kenneth and Paula Johnson called Salvationists to gather and thank God for his blessings in the first 20 years, but also to be forward-thinking in anticipation of what he will be doing in the next 20 years.
Preparations for the anniversary had started months before, with Salvationists across the territory joining together in a 24-7 prayer emphasis. God heard and answered the prayers of the faithful as he showed up in even more powerful ways than could be imagined.
The Chief of the Staff began the weekend by sharing from God's Word at officers councils.
Saturday morning commenced with a celebration of the past 20 years, with reflections on a ministry that began in Russia in 1991 and has since seen The Salvation Army reopen or begin work in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Romania (The Salvation Army has recommenced its work in other former Communist countries but these are part of different territories). Each country of the Eastern Europe Territory was represented during a multimedia presentation about the territory's development.
Commissioner Sue Swanson gave an inspiring message on the faithfulness of God, following which the mercy seat was lined with people seeking God's guidance and strength for their lives.
Saturday afternoon featured evangelistic outreach, when corps and divisional music ministries were presented in a local park. Many spectators were introduced to the gospel message and the ministry of The Salvation Army.
Highlights of the Saturday night 'Celebrate the Present' festival were the enrolment of 39 soldiers by the Chief of the Staff and the recognition of two new corps. The congregation was also blessed through the playing of a new band arrangement composed by Captain Sergei Zhurevlev.
The Bible message for the evening was presented by Russian officer Captain Vitali Sidorov, who shared from God's word and spoke about the blessings he receives while ministering through The Salvation Army in his home country. A vital Salvationist zeal was pervasive throughout the evening.
The weekend culminated on Sunday morning when worship was centred on 'Claiming the Future'. The future was dynamically represented in the commissioning and ordination of six officers of the Ambassadors of Holiness Session.
The Swansons ministered in powerful ways as they both shared their testimony and the Chief of the Staff brought his Bible message. People eagerly responded to the Spirit moving in their hearts and the mercy seat was lined with seekers.
Candidates Secretary Captain Olesea Gandzii gave a call for full-time ministry to which 30 people responded.
The meeting concluded with Salvation Army flags, and the flags of the five nations represented, waving all around the room in a grand send-off as everyone returned to their mission fields.