“Welcome home!” From the moment General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World President of Women’s Ministries) arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador, that was the common refrain as the Peddles made their first official visit to their home division as international leaders of The Salvation Army.
Under the theme Mobilize NL, the leaders encouraged Salvationists and friends in several locations, accompanied by Commissioner Floyd Tidd, territorial commander, and Lt-Colonel Sandra Stokes, divisional commander.
The visit began with a tour of the new Ches Penney Centre of Hope in St. John’s. The General was especially moved to see the centre’s supportive housing program, which provides 20 permanent, affordable apartments for people experiencing homelessness.
A luncheon followed the tour, with local Mayor Danny Breen and the Honourable John Abbott, provincial minister of children, seniors and social development, in attendance. The General expressed deep gratitude to the government for their generous support and funding of the centre.
That evening, the General and Commissioner Peddle took part in their first public meeting of the visit in Gander, drawing Salvationists from across the central-west area of the island.
As he introduced the international leaders, Commissioner Tidd said, “It is a great and historic occasion to be together tonight,” noting the weekend’s events signal an opportunity to mobilize again following the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her opening remarks, Commissioner Peddle delighted the congregation with stories from one of her first appointments, in Deadman’s Bay. “Two absolutely wonderful years of growing and maturing,” she reflected. “I’m thankful to God for his hand on my life through the years.”
Along with musical selections by the local band (BM Stephanie Holloway) and Wendy Woodland, a highlight of the meeting was a report from Lieutenant April Ward of Buchans Corps, who shared how territorial innovation grants have sparked new ministries with both youth and seniors.
Throughout the weekend, the General delivered messages centred on surrendering to God. “William Booth said, ‘God shall have all of me,’ and because of that, we have The Salvation Army,” he said. “What does God want to do with you?”
Following the General’s message, many gathered at the mercy seat for prayer.
The second meeting took place in Blaketown, which the General affectionately referred to as his “backyard,” having grown up in Norman’s Cove only a short distance away. The international leaders were led into the service by Commissioner Peddle’s brother, Wes Rowe, who carried the flag of her home corps in Carbonear, N.L.
Thunderous clapping and joyful singing filled the gym of Crescent Collegiate as the worship team (leader Rod Yetman) led the congregation in an array of familiar choruses and hymns. Selections by the local band (BM Byron Brooks) and Woodland also blessed the congregation.
In his message, the General spoke from the heart, sharing how he got saved at the nearby Chance Cove Corps at Easter 1974 and was called to officership. “Surrender is the key to a relationship with the Almighty,” he said, and as the worship team played All to Jesus I Surrender, seekers came forward to rededicate themselves to Christ.
The leaders then returned to St. John’s, where a Festival of Praise showcased the music ministry of various young people’s groups from the area.
“We have a lot to praise God for!” declared Major Chad Ingram, divisional children and youth secretary, as he welcomed those gathered at Holy Heart Theatre.
Divisional youth band Newfound Brass (BM Stephen White) and Chorus (leader Leah Antle) provided musical selections throughout the evening, along with young people from St. John’s Temple, St. John’s Citadel, Mount Pearl Citadel and St. John’s West Corps.
Their vibrant ministry was appreciated by all in attendance. “What would we be without our young people?” Commissioner Peddle asked the congregation. “They are the Army of today and tomorrow.”
In her message, Commissioner Peddle encouraged Salvationists to stand firm and fight courageously. “Through the work and power of the Holy Spirit, God is on the move!”
On Sunday morning, relentless rain could not dampen the spirits of the Salvationists who gathered to worship God at Holy Heart. In her call to worship, Lt-Colonel Stokes not only welcomed those physically present, but also the many more joining the service by livestream.
As it was September 11, the meeting began with a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of 9-11, while images of the Army’s response to the tragic event, in both New York City and Gander, were displayed.
In his final message of the weekend, the General assured those gathered and watching by livestream that “God has a plan for The Salvation Army in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Calling Salvationists to give themselves in service to God, he challenged the congregation: “Can God count on you? Surrender your all—the kingdom is at stake!”
Moved to action by his message, many came forward to pray.
As the meeting concluded, Major Jamie Locke, divisional secretary for public relations, presented the Peddles with a parting gift and thanked them for their “tremendous impact.”
Photos: Steadman Bowers