Congress inspires territory to pursue mission

Nearly 3,500 Salvationists were inspired to pursue mission with their whole hearts, lives and resources at the Forward Together Congress, June 9-11, by led General André and Commissioner Silvia Cox.

Exciting selections like “Flashpoint” by the Territorial Youth Band and “Stand Up” by the territorial praise band The Singing Company with Phil Laeger and “Battle Cry” by the Territorial Youth Chorus, United Songsters and the Chicago Staff Band (CSB) filled the Sears Centre arena and set the tone not only for the keynote session but the weekend. These performing groups also anchored the weekend.

An emphasis on prayer wove throughout the meeting with a beautiful offering to the Lord by a radiant Captain Catherine Mount, and a humble response by Norridge Citadel, Ill., Corps-sergeant Major (CSM) David Brooksbank, who was recognized for exceptional service. “Time spent in prayer is crucial in order to remain passionate about bringing Christ to the people and the people to Christ,” he said. Territorial Commander Commissioner Paul R. Seiler explored “Creating a Shared Future” with the help of the Bill Booth Theater Company.

A magnificent performance of “Let the Walls Come Down” by Charlie Green and the CSB was an undoubted highpoint, but the message by the General was the apex of the evening. He urged delegates to be full participants in the great mission God has called us to in this age of monumental change and political upheaval. It is in the reality of our everyday lives, he said, that we are called to have faith and to step out in hope. “Is your faith strong enough to enable you to step out and take hold of the mission?” he asked. Even on the first evening, some were moved to kneel at the altar.

More than 200 Salvationists, including territorial leaders Commissioners Paul R. and Carol Seiler and General André and Commissioner Silvia Cox, greeted Saturday morning with the 5K Run for the World. (See page 5.)

The theme of missions continued in the united morning session, “Invest Intentionally,” which celebrated the joy of partnership and community of our global Army. A dialogue between the territorial commander and Chris Shay, director of the territorial world missions department, explored the remarkable difference the 20 New Corps initiative has been making in countries like Mexico and Tanzania, and a World Services/Self-Denial Ingathering announced an astounding $9.1 million given to the Lord’s work.

“Wow!” exclaimed Commissioner Silvia Cox, who expressed thanks and explained the reality that without such contributions some territories couldn’t exist and some important projects would never be possible. She shared stories of transformed lives and the brave witness of Salvationists throughout the world.

After huddling with overseas personnel for prayer, the summer mission teams were dedicated for service by Commissioner Carol Seiler, who asked God to give them courage, wisdom and discernment.

“We are all called by God into this mission,” exclaimed the General. “We are all called to make a difference in the world.” In his stirring address, the General conveyed that though the Accountability Movement has been about improving professional standards, at its heart it has been about being in tune with God, our world and reaching out to people.

The Saturday morning meeting also honored Commissioners Paul R. and Carol Seiler through a video called “Running the Race” about their lives and ministry, followed by their official retirement ceremony by the General and Commissioner Cox. The General saluted the Seilers for their innovative leadership, specifically citing the creation of Pathway of Hope, and applauded their reliance on God throughout their officership.

In his response, the territorial commander reflected, “We had no idea our opportunities for ministry in the next 11 years would be expanded and changed forever by our exposure and engagement in the Central Territory.”

Saturday afternoon offered a youth rally with the General and Commissioner Silvia Cox
(see page 5) and a plethora of activities from an award-winning barbeque picnic to a colorful Global Village, concerts, activities with the Historical Museum, and extensive shopping opportunities at Trade Central and vendors. (See page 3.) The festivities proved a perfect segue into the fun and family-friendly evening meeting themed, “Ignite Creativity!”

Meeting highlights included a pure and fearless solo by junior soldier Jacob Pook with a United Singing Company of more than 250 children representing all divisions; “A Tall Tale,” the story of David and Goliath portrayed in a Western context by the Bill Booth Theater Company and Chicago Staff Band (CSB); an audience Sunday school sing-along led by Charlie Green; and a preview of the exciting Broadway-style musical A Long Way Off. Cheers erupted with the recognition of exceptional service by Major Richard Justvig for his post-retirement ministry as the St. Louis Gateway, Mo., CSM and his role in helping to develop Heart, a vital program of healing and restoration for former officers.

An encouraging message was given by Commissioner Silvia Cox on how God can inspire us with small ideas that can have big and lasting results, like the origin of the Army’s World Services/Self-Denial. “Be aware of what God is telling you. That’s creativity!” she said.

Later in the meeting the General’s message focused on the Army’s integrated mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the needs of people without discrimination. Citing the Whole World Mobilizing campaign, he shared how Salvationists are boldly going out into the world pursuing the mission, concluding, “The world needs a strong, mobilized Salvation Army.”