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Jun17SunSalvationists gather to worship God and send out the Messengers of Compassion. June 17, 2018 by Pamela Richardson“Hallelujah! What a wonderful day!” said Lt-Colonel Sandra Rice, divisional commander of the Ontario Central-East Division, as she welcomed Salvationists and friends to a worship service at the Toronto Congress Centre on Sunday morning, June 17. The crowd had come together for the third and final day of the Ontario Central-East divisional congress and commissioning events. Colonel Rice acknowledged the hundreds tuning in to the service via livestream and invited them to join in as she led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.
Accompanied by a massed band made up of the Canadian Staff Band (BM John Lam) and the Ontario Central-East Divisional Youth Band (BM Rob Brown), the congregation joined enthusiastically in the singing of Stand Up and Bless the Lord before Colonel Debbie Graves, territorial secretary for women’s ministries and integrated mission secretary, read Luke 14:15-24.
Also lending musical support were the Canadian Staff Songsters (SL Major Len Ballantine) and the Ontario Central-East Divisional Youth Chorus (Sheryl Slous, leader).
Salvationist Ken Garrett of Kingston Citadel was interviewed by his corps officer, Major David McNeilly, and shared his experience of salvation. Having given his life to Christ, he was invited to attend a men’s spiritual conference in Manitoba. In spite of his misgivings, the breakage of his eyeglasses, and a mix-up with his hotel and car rental, Garrett made it to the conference.
“I had a new experience of the Holy Spirit,” he shared. “I left there a brand new man. With God’s help, I started making changes in my life and asked for forgiveness from the people in my life that I had hurt.”
Enrolled as a senior soldier last year, Garrett declared with a smile, “I am a work in progress!”
In a particularly exciting and poignant moment, Colonel Rice highlighted the Ontario Central-East Division’s commitment to strengthen congregational ministry. Officers from across the division shared stories of salvation and the transformation of lives that are taking place in corps and ministry centres across the division.
“We believe that God is going to continue to bring people to himself,” she said, “not just in Ontario Central-East, but across the territory. Arise, go and be messengers to the world. We give all the glory to him!”
In his message, Colonel Lee Graves, chief secretary, spoke about our responsibility as Christians to share the good news of God’s love with the world.
“The Great Commission is still the Great Commission,” he said. “Let’s not water it down or lose our way. God raised up The Salvation Army to go for souls and go for the worst. Are you part of the Great Commission?”
Referencing Matthew 8, he reminded the congregation that God is the God of the whosoever. “Will you invite them to come?” he asked.
Many moved forward from all areas of the auditorium in response to the chief secretary’s invitation to kneel at the cross-shaped mercy seat in dedication of their lives to God’s commission.
In the final moments of the service, the territorial commander recognized the newest members of the Fellowship of the Silver Star, people who have made a spiritual impact on the lives of the new lieutenants of the Messengers of the Gospel Session. Following the service, a luncheon was held in their honour. Major David Allen, CFOT principal, then joined Commissioner McMillan to recognize the summer assignments of the Messengers of Compassion who will begin their second year of training in the fall.
Congress and commissioning events concluded as the congregation stood to joyfully sing “On we march with the blood and fire, to the ends of the earth we will go!” as a declaration of their commitment to share Christ with the world.