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Jul6MonCongress concludes with a challenging word from General André Cox, sending delegates marching down the streets of London. July 6, 2015
Seventh Session of Boundless Encourages an "Army of Integrity"
There was a buzz of anticipation as Salvationists packed into The O2 arena for the seventh – and final – session of Boundless 2015. Contributions by the International Staff Band (ISB), International Staff Songsters (ISS) and Mannssambandet prepared the way for worship with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, further enhanced by multimedia, dance and vocal soloist Ayoung Lee with Send the Fire.
The screens displayed an international Army at prayer, and the sound of prayer continued as three delegates prayed in their respective languages before the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William A. Roberts) drew the prayers together and asked God to "help us to listen" and "help us to respond."
In a spirit of worship, Vasa Gospel choir sang with energy and sincerity Great Is the Lord. Ayoung Lee then started to sing the great hymn Holy, Holy, Holy and was joined by a virtual choir of Salvationists from around the world whose individual images – supplied online – appeared on the screens. The virtual choir was swelled by the capacity congregation in the arena to create a great paean. Congress-goers were left in no doubt about the great universal company of Salvationists who were also praising God with them at that time.
General André Cox introduced William Flinn, of Pasadena Tabernacle Corps in the USA Western Territory, whose service has included many years of music leadership. He is the first soldier to be inducted onto the National Advisory Board of America and, in his role as President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, his witness is known. His service exemplifies the spirit of Christian excellence in spreading the gospel message, and the General admitted him to the Order of the Founder, the highest Salvation Army award.
The General then told the congregation that in this anniversary year it was right that recognition should be given to a UK Salvationist. He invited Divisional Envoy Iris Jones (Murton) to join him, saying, "She has led the corps with strength of will, determination and almost single-handedly for 30 years, maintaining a busy schedule of activities including public house ministry three evenings a week. She continues to look at new ways to make the gospel attractive and relevant." During this time she has not been paid an allowance or salary of any kind. For her ministry of sacrificial service and continued Kingdom impact, the General admitted Iris Jones to the Order of the Founder.
Selected Scripture was spoken in various languages before the ISB contributed The Kingdom Triumphant with the powerful reminder of the song Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending.
The Bill Booth Theater Company focused on the subject of integrity in their sketch "Hold it Up to the Light." Using the example of a cracked pot being presented as perfect, the question was asked, "If your life and heart were held up to the light would there be cracks?" The sketch concluded with the thought that God flows through the broken places to others.
A multimedia display depicted the General's dream for the Army, on which the main congress sessions were based, after which people were asked to consider what they needed to do to make the ideas of the dream a reality.
"What has this celebration been all about?" asked the General, and "What is going to change? What is God calling you to do?" He said the dream will only become a reality when lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit and that holiness is the visible sign of salvation.
"We must be totally committed and dedicated to the task assigned to us," he said. "If we're convinced of our call we will live lives fully surrendered to God. Our worship needs to be more than speaking or listening to God. It must be about total surrender. We need a sense of urgency in a world where there is so much injustice and need."
He then referred to Vachel Lindsay's poem "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven" with its images of people washed in the blood and the Army at war against darkness and despair, saying, "This is something that must engage every one of us. I fear we have become comfortable, contented and settled and detached from the reality of world suffering."
He reminded everyone, "All have sinned – this was why God sent us a Saviour. Too many people are living in poverty and exclusion, too many are lonely." Referring to the vision of William Booth depicted in the iconic "Darkest England" poster, he said, "We see Salvationists manning the lifeboats and rescuing those in the seas … We are still an Army that rescues those who are damaged by life … Our lives can point people to Christ … All our programs are but a gateway to the hearts and minds of people."
The General went on to remind listeners that there are no limits to what God can do in individual lives. "This is boundless salvation," he said, "A total surrender of our lives and the total commitment to the mission." These challenging words were followed by the ISS with Bow the Knee.
The Chief reminded listeners of the General's call to action and asked, "What is God saying to you right now?" Many people engaged in prayerful moments of commitment, some moving forward to kneel at the cross-shaped mercy seat. In leading O Boundless Salvation! the Chief asked that this song might take on a new or fresher meaning.
The finale delivered a focus on God's Kingdom with They Shall Come from the East, They Shall Come from the West. Participants were clad in white versions of international clothes as, with special effects and even circus-style acrobatics, Boundless 2015 was brought to a fitting and spectacular conclusion.
Earlier the General had acknowledged the roles played in organizing the congress by Commissioner William Cochrane (International Secretary to the Chief of the Staff), Lieut-Colonels Eddie and Kathy Hobgood and all the technicians who made the theme of Boundless a reality.
Commissioner Cochrane closed the session – and the congress – with a benediction assigning all the glory to God.
Watch the seventh session of Boundless, "An Army of Integrity":
March to Buckingham Palace
More than 12,000 Salvationists – many of them travelling from the international congress venue at The O2 – poured onto the streets of central London on Sunday July 5, the final day of Boundless – The Whole World Redeeming.
More than 2,500 participants – between them representing each of the 126 countries which have Salvation Army ministry – marched from Horse Guards Parade down The Mall, towards Buckingham Palace to take the salute from General André Cox, Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries), the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William Roberts) and Commissioner Nancy Roberts (World Secretary for Women's Ministries). From there they headed to to Constitution Hill, with the international leaders also marching from the event. The streets were lined with an additional 10,000 Salvationists, friends and members of the public cheering on the celebration.
Organized by Paul Gunnell, Assistant Events Manager for the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, the 45-minute march was led off by an International Headquarters (IHQ) contingent fronted by Commissioner William Cochrane (International Secretary to the Chief of the Staff).
Seven bands took part – the International Staff Band (ISB), Angola National Band, New York Staff Band, Chicago Staff Band, South America East Territorial Band, the Melbourne Staff Band and Regent Hall Band – as well as timbrelists, soldiers, adherent members and congress staff and volunteers.
"In 1865, The Salvation Army was born on the streets of London," the General said. "It is entirely appropriate, then, that we should return to those streets to conclude our 150th anniversary celebrations. We have had a wonderful week of fellowship and worship at The O2 but now – as is our tradition – we want to share our joy and faith outside our own walls."
Hundreds of people around the world were able to observe the march via a live webstream from IHQ's Periscope account (sar.my/periscope).
The Army has an extensive history of marching on the streets of London. Its members have marched during previous international congresses – including in 1978 and 1990 – as well as in 2011 for the ISB's 120th anniversary celebration.
Major Carol Horton from Australia was among those cheering on the festivities. "It's always really exciting to see," she said. "It reminds you of how vast the Army is."
Lieutenant Hean Suk Choi, South Korea native and corps officer in the United Kingdom, likened the march to an open-air meeting. "It's our unique expression to the public to share with everyone the culture of The Salvation Army," she said.
Her husband, Lieutenant Kook Hwan Rho, added, "We have been given an opportunity to meet Salvationists from 126 countries, but we feel like there are no strangers. Everyone immediately felt like brothers and sisters."
Major Russell Czajkowski, San Antonio (Texas) Area Commander from USA Southern Territory, said he was very impressed by the congress's offerings, particularly Session 7. "The General's message to submit ourselves was very inspirational," he said. "That was my favourite part of Boundless."
Lieut-Colonel Seth Appeateng (Officer Commanding, Rwanda and Burundi Command) said, "Everything about the congress was fantastic. My spirit was moved. Now I'm going to call my people to go out onto the streets and share Jesus Christ."
The General concluded, saying, "The march marks the end of the anniversary celebrations but it is also a start – a launching point as members of God's Army return to their homes and neighbourhoods across the world, ready to continue serving God and mankind."
Boundless 2015 social media sites – Twitter (@Boundless2015), Instagram (Boundless_2015) and Facebook (Boundless 2015) – continue to be flooded with the latest news and views from delegates and Salvationists and friends from around the world, using the hashtag #Boundless2015. Visit Salvationist.ca's Facebook page daily for the “Best of Boundless.”
Read the fifth issue of the congress newspaper, Boundless Today: