Army in Chile celebrates 100 years

General and Commissioner Clifton commemorate The Salvation Army centenary in Chile.

The mercy seat in the shape of Chile was the focal point of the congress meetings. [Photo courtesy of International Headquarters]

In their first visit to the South America West Territory, General Shaw and Commissioner Helen Clifton celebrated, with fellow Salvationists and Army friends, Chile’s National Centennial Congress in Santiago.

In 1909, Brigadiers William and Raquel Bonnett walked the streets of Valparaiso, Chile, proclaiming the gospel of Christ and pioneering the work of the Army in the country. One hundred years later, the General and Commissioner walked the same streets, proclaiming the same message and affirming the Army’s continued commitment to its spiritual presence and community service there.

In this “March of Testimony,” more than 1,200 Salvationists paraded through cobbled streets as The Salvation Army in Chile returned to its roots. The march culminated with a salute to the international leaders and territorial leaders Colonels Jorge and Adelina Ferreira, and an open-air meeting in the central plaza of the city.

The city awarded a plaque to the Army, recognizing the men’s home for its 100 years of service to the homeless.

On Friday evening, more than 1,000 Salvationists—including dignitaries and government representatives—welcomed the international leaders as they walked with the territorial leaders alongside a 43-foot-long mercy seat formed in the shape of Chile. This altar became the focal point for the congress weekend, receiving more than 200 seekers throughout the celebration.

Saturday’s festival of music—entitled “Celebrating the Past”—included a 40-piece brass band, interpretive dance troop, timbrelists and praise and worship group. Members of the three Chilean divisions performed regional dances.

Following the General’s challenge to be “set apart for Christ with clean hands and a pure heart,” the festival continued with the first performance of a new march written for the occasion by 21-year-old Sebastian Espinoza from Antofagasta, Chile. The festival ended with a “hallelujah wind-up” led by Colonel Ferreira.

In the Sunday morning holiness meeting, the General highlighted the Chile-shaped mercy seat, encouraging the congregation to envision the country as a mercy seat, praying that it could be won for Christ. Again, it was lined with seekers.

Around 1,500 delegates gathered on Sunday evening for praise and worship, concentrating on “Prophesying the Future.” After his final message, the General knelt at the mercy seat, joined by Commissioner Clifton and many people who responded to the call for rededication, including 23 youth committing themselves to full-time ministry as Salvation Army officers.

From a news report by Lt. Colonel Heidi Bailey

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