At the end of October, Commissioners Lee and Debbie Graves, territorial leaders, embarked on a welcome tour across Canada, visiting corps and ministry units from coast to coast. Accompanied by Lt-Colonel John Murray, territorial secretary for communications, Commissioners Graves began their tour in Newfoundland and Labrador, before making stops in five other provinces.

A group of people praying together
At Montreal Citadel, Commissioners Graves pray with Cpts Juan Chirinos and Indira Albert and Cols Eleanor and Glen Shepherd

“It was uplifting and affirming to meet with officers, employees, Salvationists and friends across the territory, to be reacquainted with missional programming that we know well and to be introduced to exciting new initiatives,” says Commissioner Lee Graves, territorial commander.

Arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador, Commissioners Graves attended a welcome service at St. John’s Citadel, before visiting Mount Pearl Citadel and Carbonear Corps, supported by Lt-Colonel Sandra Stokes, divisional commander,Newfoundland and Labrador Division. The following day, they travelled to Halifax where they shared a lunch with employees at the then Maritime divisional headquarters and enjoyed a reception at the Army’s community centre with officers and mission partners.

The next day, they moved on to Quebec, first stopping in at Montreal Citadel’s community program, Stitch and Chat, with Captains Indira Albert and Juan Chirinos, corps officers. While in Montreal, they also visited the Booth Centre and the Rosemont (Nouveaux Departs) Corps. “Montreal reminded us of the richness of community-based ministry shared at the corps and the beautiful care provided through our social service work,” says Commissioner Graves.

Two people shake hands
Commissioner Lee Graves speaks with Kathy Blindenbach, chaplain at Calgary Community Services, about integrated mission

In Calgary, the territorial leaders visited ministry units such as the new Forest Lawn Community Resource Centre, a 50,000-square-foot facility that will offer community-based ministry, including a full-sized gymnasium to engage skateboarders, the Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre and the Booth Centre.

They then travelled to Vancouver, visiting the British Columbia divisional headquarters, Belkin House and Harbour Light, where they were reminded of the valued community partnerships that support the Army’s social service work.

Commissioners Graves concluded their cross-country welcome tour with a visit to Saskatchewan, meeting with Salvationists at Saskatoon Temple, touring local ministry units and taking part in the corps retreat at the Army’s Beaver Creek Camp.

A group of people standing together in a cafeteria
Accompanied by Lt-Col Jamie Braund, DC, B.C. Div, Commissioners Graves meet with staff at Vancouver Harbour Light

“Our priority is the ministry of presence,” says Commissioner Graves. “While we were only able to visit a limited sampling of the territory on this tour, what we witnessed and the conversations we shared provided insight into the ongoing positive impact of last year’s INSPIRE Conference and Congress, the responsibility and commitment carried out with passion and intentionality, and a dependency upon the Lord as we trust in his faithfulness.

“The Army is strong and progressive,” he continues. “We are blessed with soldiers and friends who are committed to being welcoming communities, and the gospel is being proclaimed by word and deed. Our mission partners in Canada and Bermuda are sharing the good news, providing practical support and fulfilling the purpose of The Salvation Army as a movement.”

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