From September 27-29, the Bermuda Division hosted its annual congress under the theme “Listen, Behold, Go—Now!” The event also served as a final sendoff for Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander, capping five years of leadership as she takes up a new appointment with International Headquarters. Together with territorial leadership, the Canadian Staff Songsters (CSS) travelled the length of the island, ministering in song and collaborating with Bermudians in worship and witness.

Canadian Staff Songsters sing on the steps of city hallThe Canadian Staff Songsters perform on the steps of city hall in Hamilton, Bermuda
Prior to the congress, The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board met in Bermuda to discuss issues of importance to the territory. At a reception, Sir John Swan, former premier of Bermuda, recalled that the Army’s Harbour Light was built under his tenure more than 30 years ago, and brought words of encouragement: “The ‘S’s on your uniforms stand for more than just salvation—they mean special. Your organization has the relationship with God that gives us the gift to be kind to one another, the sharing and caring.”

Opening Celebrations
Events kicked off on Friday afternoon with an outdoor concert by the CSS at city hall in Hamilton, Bermuda (click here to watch a recording of the concert). In attendance was the city’s mayor, The Rt. Worship Charles R. Gosling, as well as the Hon. Lovitta Foggo, member of Parliament. A Bermudian town crier, dressed in traditional garb, rang the bell to announce the concert. Commissioner McMillan spoke on the theme “Be Strong: Fight for the People and the City.” Later that evening, Commissioner McMillan and members of the CSS mingled with young people from across the division at the Cedar Hill Corps for a fun night of games and fellowship.

Cutting the ribbon at West End Community ChurchCommissioner Susan McMillan, Major Sandra Stokes and Captain Shawna Goulding cut the ribbon on the extension of West End Community Church
Saturday began with a prayer breakfast at West End Community Church in Somerset, Bermuda, led by Major Sandra Stokes, divisional commander. Colonel Shelley Hill, territorial secretary for women’s ministries, spoke on 1 Samuel 3 and urged those assembled to take the time to listen to what God and others have to say. Members of the congregation then led a prayer time of thanksgiving, confession, intercession, supplication and empowering. The CSS surrounded the capacity crowd and sang Hallowed Be Thy Name and His Eye Is on the Sparrow, with a solo by Janine van der Horden.

With the Bermuda Divisional Band playing outside the church doors, the space was hastily reconfigured to celebrate the official opening of West End Community Church’s new building extension—a multipurpose space that will enable the congregation to better serve the community. The audience thrilled to a presentation by the West End Community Church Puppet Ministry, composed of young people, as well as a vocal solo from Jamel Bean.

CSS sing at West End Community ChurchThe CSS perform at West End Community Church
Commissioner McMillan, Major Stokes and Captain Shawna Goulding, corps officer and divisional youth secretary, together with the corps’ local officers, cut the ribbon. “This is the culmination of a long journey,” noted Commissioner McMillan in her remarks. “This must be more than just bricks and mortar; it must be a place where the gospel is shared in community.”

Sing a New Song
On Saturday evening, the CSS hosted a concert at the Hamilton Princess hotel with selections such as Just Like John, Take Me Back, They Could Not and It’s Me, O Lord, with soloist Melanie Vincent. Emcee Beverly Daniels kept the crowd in good humour as she introduced the performers, which included Bermudian Patrisse Simmons who ministered in dance with The Best in Me and Gracefully Broken, to the delight of the crowd. The Bermuda Divisional Band (BM Warren Jones) energized the evening with the march Cairo Red Shield and the more contemplative They Shall Come From the East. The audience got into the action, clapping and dancing along as the CSS worship team led a lively time of praise and worship.

Marching into the service with flagsSalvationists and Army leaders march into the Sunday morning meeting
Prior to his message, Colonel Edward Hill regaled the crowd with The Carpenters’ Top of the World, a song of devotion to his wife, and Staff Songster Steve Cooper jokingly offered him a festival tunic. Colonel Hill then noted that we all need to “sing a new song” to the Lord and related how Psalm 33 provides a good roadmap for how we approach worship.

Go in the Strength of the Lord
Sunday morning worship was livestreamed across the territory and included a farewell ceremony for Commissioner McMillan. Colonel Edward Hill noted, “God deserves our best and the territorial commander has lived that out with every word, thought and deed.” He noted that just as the islands of Bermuda were scattered like pearls in the ocean, so, too, the commissioner’s influence has been like a string of PEARLs, demonstrating Purpose, Excellence, Action, Relationships and Love.

Also on Sunday, Major Kent Hepditch, corps officer, North Street Citadel, testified of his time at the International College for Officers, the North Street Singing Company sang You Make Me Brave, and long-serving employees and volunteers Chandra-Lee Bascome (business manager) and Delano Ingham (St. George’s Corps) were acknowledged.

The North Street Singing Company sings You Make Me BraveThe North Street Singing Company sings You Make Me Brave
In her message, Commissioner McMillan picked up the weekend theme, noting, “There is so much more to do for the kingdom, and Christ invites us to go into the world to represent him. We need to let people know that God loves them with his whole heart. We need to go—now!” Appropriately, Major Stokes led the congregation in the singing of I’ll Go in the Strength of the Lord to conclude the service.

The final event of the weekend was a concert at St. George’s Corps at the east end of the island, which was not dampened by the gloomy skies. The mayor of St. George’s, His Worship George Dowling III, and Renee Ming, member of Parliament, brought greetings. After a rousing performance by the CSS, songster leader Major Len Ballantine led the congregation in a concluding sing-along, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.

Photos: Euanne Fox, Lionel Cann, Geoff Moulton and Lt-Colonel John P. Murray

Commissioner Susan McMillanCommissioner Susan McMillan addresses the congregation at the Sunday morning meeting

Major Sandra StokesMajor Sandra Stokes welcomes everyone to St. George's Corps

Bermuda Divisional Band with Canadian SalvationistsThe Bermuda Divisional Band (and Canadian supporters) with Bandmaster Warren Jones

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