(Above) General and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle salute Salvationists gathered at Massey Hall in Toronto
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Toronto’s historic Massey Hall was filled with the sights and sounds of Salvation Army music and praise on Friday evening as Salvationists gathered for a welcome celebration at the start of the congress portion of INSPIRE events.
In their opening remarks, Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd, territorial leaders, referenced Ezekiel 37.
“Unless we respond to the invitation to call upon the Spirit to breathe fresh wind into this body called The Salvation Army, we cannot live, we cannot stand up,” said Commissioner Floyd Tidd. “As we make ourselves ready and willing to accept the fresh breathing of God upon us, he will again stand up a vast army for his purposes, vision and glory.” At various points throughout INSPIRE, the territorial commander encouraged attendees to pause and take a deep breath, symbolizing the Spirit of God in us.
After a video celebrating The Salvation Army’s innovation grant program and a processional, led by the Four Crest Dancers from Gitwinksihlkw, B.C., General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, received a warm welcome as they entered the hall.
“Hello, Canada and Bermuda!” said Commissioner Peddle as she brought greetings. “I am so glad that somebody had the wisdom to invite us to come back, because I wouldn’t want this weekend to have gone without me being here! The fire of the Holy Spirit has been lit in our hearts and is burning brightly.”
Lighting the Darkness
A video celebrating the history of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda was followed by Shine On Us, sung by Toronto’s Yorkminster Singing Company and the Canadian Staff Songsters and accompanied by the Canadian Staff Band. During the song, digital bracelets that had been distributed to attendees as they arrived at Massey Hall lit the auditorium with a myriad of twinkling lights. The bracelets came to life at various other points throughout the evening, again lighting the darkness.
Colonel Evie Diaz, chief secretary, invited Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd to the stage to acknowledge their faithful service to the territory throughout Commissioner Floyd’s ongoing health concerns. The audience responded with a standing ovation as an expression of appreciation and support.
“This is not your retirement, this is not a big, long speech,” said Colonel Diaz as she offered a prayer of blessing. “This is simply our desire to express to you how much we love you, and to assure you of our prayers during these days of the unknown, assured that God is with you.”
Following a scriptural presentation from Toronto’s Scarborough Citadel drama team entitled “Lord, Stir the Embers,” Jordan Bullock of North Street Citadel, Hamilton, Bermuda, sang This Little Light of Mine, supported by the Canadian Staff Band and Canadian Staff Songsters. Prayers for the congress were then simultaneously offered in English, Nisga’a, Spanish, Korean, French and Cantonese, accompanied by drummer Drae Azak.
Preceded by the Canadian Staff Band’s Impulse, the crowd was treated to a performance of Fear Is Not My Future by the North Street Lyrical Dancers and an inspiring video testimony of David Kang: The Man Behind the Uniform.
Following the presentation of Shine On by the Canadian Staff Songsters, the General and Commissioner Floyd Tidd presented the Award of Exceptional Service to two deserving individuals: Major Len Ballantine, musician, composer and leader of the Canadian Staff Songsters, in recognition of his lifelong contributions to the Army’s mission and ministry; and Sharon Wynne for her 55 years of service as an executive assistant for 15 divisional commanders in the Prairie Division.
In his message, General Brian Peddle shared the importance of gathering in the light of God. “You can’t be The Salvation Army and deprive yourself of the light of God in your life,” he said. “God has infused us with the brightness of his light, the hope of glory and the responsibility to reflect that glory in the world in which we live. I felt the challenge again tonight.”
Earlier in the Day …
Officers’ Councils provided an opportunity for the international leaders to offer words of inspiration and encouragement to their fellow officers.
In the afternoon at the Westin Harbour Castel Hotel, the supplies and purchasing department staged a fashion show as bystanders cheered on the latest Salvation Army clothing.
Members of the National Advisory Board gathered for a special dinner that provided an opportunity for them to greet the General and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle. A highlight of the event was the presentation of a Certificate of Life Membership to the Honourable Roger Simmons, Andrew Lennox and Daniel Burns.
SAL-CON Takes INSPIRE by Storm
Friday night’s SAL-CON was a vibrant event for teenagers and young adults hosted by Canada Bermuda Youth (CANBDA), featuring an action-packed schedule that ran late into the night. Attendees enjoyed music by DJ TUNA and fun activities such as a life-sized “human billiards” game, gigantic cornhole and Guess Who? games, a photo booth, an arcade, and buffets filled with late-night snacks and desserts. Dodgeball and SA Gaming tournaments encouraged friendly competition among peers.
Another popular feature at SAL-CON was the “Camp Corner,” which showcased various Salvation Army camps across the territory, including memorabilia, information on the history of Salvation Army camping ministries, a camp shirt exchange and a live Kahoot game.
“The hope is that we can encourage camp staff and previous campers to take part, and to help get other youth involved and learn more about camps across the territory,” said Kristen De Beer, who serves on the staff of Camp Sunrise in Gibsons, B.C. “Tonight is about the youth. We want them to know that no matter what community they’re from, there is a camp for them.”
Various acts such as magician John Michael Hinton, the Four Crest Dancers and Christian pop band The Color took to the main stage to provide entertainment throughout the night. Later in the evening, General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle stopped in to say hello and take pictures with the young people in attendance.
“SAL-CON is bringing youth together from across the territory,” said Captain Jason Dockeray, territorial children and youth secretary. “Our teens and young adults can come here to be inspired, energized, have a blast and know they are loved and that there is a place for them in The Salvation Army.”