A Friday evening public meeting held at the Melbourne City Conference Centre featured a number of testimonies, including from members of The Salvation Army’s Recovery Church and its Farsi congregations, as well as a presentation from Salvos Stores chief executive officer Matt Davis. Captain Claire Emerton (corps officer, Dandenong) shared the privileges and challenges of working with people from many different cultural backgrounds.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Rosalie displayed a delightful rapport as they entertained the crowd with some humorous back-and-forth banter. This was followed by comments from National Commander Commissioner Floyd Tidd, who spoke about "Living Our Vision."
The Melbourne Staff Songsters contribution Wondrous Cross preceded an inspiring challenge from the Chief for Salvationists to shine like "stars in the sky" and make sure they venture 'out of the barracks' to speak into the lives of people.
The international visitors then travelled to Sydney, where a Sunday afternoon praise and worship meeting was held at Hurstville Corps. The meeting followed a similar format to the Friday gathering in Melbourne, the Peddles again delighting the congregation with their warmth and accessibility.
The event was supported by Hurstville Band and Sydney Staff Songsters. A highlight of the event was a rigorous question-and-answer session for the Peddles, in which they were "interrogated" by the children of the Australia Eastern Territory. The commissioners’ interaction with their interviewers delighted the congregation, which was charmed by the openness and innocence of the children.
In his Bible message, the Chief of the Staff encouraged the congregation to influence the world for Christ.
Earlier in the day, the visitors had been involved in the morning holiness meeting at Auburn Corps in western Sydney, where Commissioner Rosalie gave the Bible message. During the meeting, the Chief presented Salvos Legal founder and managing partner Luke Geary with the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service, the international Salvation Army’s highest award for a non-Salvationist.
The award was made "in recognition of and appreciation for bringing into reality General William Booth’s vision of the 'poor man’s lawyer' with the creation of Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian." Salvos Legal provides a paid-for service to private companies and clients, and to government agencies, with the income raised funding free advice and representation through Salvos Humanitarian for people who cannot afford to pay. The two entities employ 40 full-time staff and 250 volunteers.
Salvos Humanitarian has handled 20,000 cases since its inception in 2010. Salvos Legal was named Australian Law Firm of the Year in 2014 and has received numerous other awards since.
On Saturday evening the international visitors had been provided with a unique opportunity as they interacted with emerging leaders. Officers and lay leaders explored – through question and dialogue – shared hopes for the Salvation Army in Australia and how all can work together in mission as One Army. The Chief noted that he was encouraged for the future of the Army by being with committed Salvationists.
Before leaving Australia, the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Rosalie spent three days in conference with leadership of The Salvation Army in Australia. They also participated in officers councils in both Melbourne and Sydney.