20 years is just the beginning!

The Salvation Army in the Czech Republic celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Rotterdam East Band leads the march through Prague. [Photo courtesy of International Headquarters]

The Salvation Army was established in Czechoslovakia in 1919. However, after 40 years of presence, the suppressive Czech government pushed the organization into exile.

In 1990—following initial contacts and a request by President Vaclav Havel to then General Eva Burrows—The Netherlands Territory assumed the responsibility of re-establishing the church in 1990.

Since then, the Czech Salvation Army has grown extensively. Corps and social projects have been initiated, many new soldiers and adherents have been enrolled and Czech officers have been trained and appointed.

Registering as a social organization with the government in 1990, the Army is now working toward official recognition as a church.

Saturday celebration
Twentieth anniversary festivities began on Oct. 9, 2010, as hundreds of people gathered for a march of witness in the Square of the Republic in the center of Prague. Following the Czech Salvation Army flag and Rotterdam East Band from The Netherlands, Salvationists and friends rallied through the middle of the capital.

More celebration followed the march with a worship and praise meeting in Wenceslas Square, attended by more than 300 people from across the Czech Republic.

Commissioner Hans van Vliet, territorial commander, The Netherlands and Czech Republic Territory, brought a Bible message.

The national worship band and the Rotterdam East Band provided the music.

Lt. Jana Kovacikova gave her testimony of how the Lord called her to service in The Salvation Army. Following the meeting, many responded to an altar call given by the Chief Secretary Colonel Piet Dijkstra, who encouraged everyone to offer their lives to Christ or thank him for what he has done.

Attending a reception after the meeting were the Dutch Ambassador J.C. Henneman and British Ambassador Sian MacLeod, who expressed her appreciation for the Army.

Well-known Czech artists offered their services at a benefit concert in the evening: TV presenters Adela en Dalibor Gondik, singer Ilona Csakova, Boni Pueri boys choir and the Poste Restante band.

Pavla Vopelakova, assistant to the national leader, spoke regarding the work of the Army in the Czech Republic.

Sunday’s meeting in The Salvation Army’s hostel in Prague included the distribution of recognition certificates. Wil van Vliet and Envoy Koos Tinga were recognized for their exceptional service to the Army. Both are Dutch Salvationists and employees who have been involved with the Czech work since 1990. Tonda Plachy and Pavla Vopelakova also received certificates. The meeting concluded with a benediction taken from Numbers 6 and sung by the Dutch bandsmen and other Dutch visitors.

An open-air meeting took place in the afternoon, attracting attention and opening doors for sharing faith and the gospel of Jesus.

Report by Major Attie van Wagtendonk
From an international news release

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