With great anticipation and a sense of privilege, corps officers (ministers) Majors Graham and Keira Wood and Salvationists and friends of Belfast Sydenham Corps (church) welcomed Chief of the Staff Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World Secretary for Spiritual Life Development) to lead Easter weekend meetings.
On their first visit to the Ireland Division, it was clear that the commissioners have a natural way with people and are passionate about their ministry as leaders within The Salvation Army.
Commencing on Good Friday evening, a large congregation joined in a time of worship, including contributions from the home corps band (‘Such love’) and songster brigade (‘Above all’). In his Bible address, the Chief invited everyone to say a personal and meaningful thank you to Jesus as the Lord’s crucifixion was recalled.
Saturday morning saw members of the corps join with the commissioners in the grounds of Northern Ireland’s Parliament buildings at Stormont, followed by a picnic.
God’s redemption story
The Easter Sunday morning meeting began with the band playing Noel Jones’s march ‘He Lives’, containing tunes that celebrate the risen Lord. Young people were well to the fore, including the singing company with ‘Jesus reigns’ and an Easter egg hunt that was used effectively by Major Graham Wood to remind the children of the real significance of Easter.
The songsters presented ‘Redeemer’, with its central message that ’our Redeemer lives’, having an impact on all present, before Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham emphasised in her sermon that we are invited by Jesus, just as Peter was, to be personally included in God’s redemption story. To end an uplifting morning of worship, the congregation created a wonderful expression of praise by singing ‘Thine be the glory’.
In the afternoon the Ireland Division gathered at Belfast Sydenham where there was ‘standing room only’. The Divisional Youth Band, making its first public appearance since the COVID-19 pandemic, played ‘What a beautiful name’ and enthralled the congregation with Kevin Larsson’s creative arrangement of ‘They shall come from the east’. The songsters completed their busy weekend by supporting the meeting, as did cadets from William Booth College on an Easter visit to the province, who led the prayer time.
The ongoing work of The Salvation Army within the division was featured in several video-based vignettes and an in-person interview with Adam Cree of Lurgan Corps.
The Chief of the Staff’s inspirational Bible message challenged each person to decide if Jesus was present, prominent or pre-eminent in their life, and as Belfast Sydenham Worship Group led the capacity congregation in the powerful worship song ‘Yet not I’, many people responded publicly by kneeling at the mercy seat.
For the corps family at Belfast Sydenham and many in the Ireland Division, the events of Easter 2023 brought great spiritual encouragement and will live long in the memory.
IHQ Communications based on a report by Bandmaster Philip Pentland