Bell reports on farewell, welcomes in New York City
BY DEBORA BELL, LT. COLONEL –
It was a privilege to attend the “take over bid” farewell salute to General John and Commissioner Gisèle Gowans held in New York City.
The first event took place at a hotel in Times Square located on Broadway. The highlight of the luncheon was a presentation by the Eastern Territory Arts Team and Pendel Players called: “From Glory to Glory.” The presentation was a futuristic meeting of the John and Gisèle Gowans Society as they pondered how to spend a generous endowment. Snippets of song and poetry from the pen of our “thespian” General were blended to both roast and honor the Gowans, ending in a wonderful challenge to the listeners to remain true to the mission of The Salvation Army the way the general summed it up: “Save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.”
Later in the day crowds of Salvationists, along with friends and family, gathered to experience a brief farewell salute to the Gowans–and two installations.
Territorial leaders stepped onto the platform from both sides of the stage, to the bold brass sounds of the New York Staff Band. The house lights lowered as the drum sounded to accompany the man who carried in the American flag. As the flag was posted, the band led the audience as we sang the national anthem. The red, yellow and blue of the Salvation Army’s blood and fire flag was picked up by the spotlight as the band played “O Boundless Salvation.” The General and Commissioner Gowans received a standing ovation as they entered the room. Commissioners W. Todd and Carol A. Bassett were the next to enter. Commissioners Lawrence R. and Nancy A. Moretz were welcomed home as the last to enter.
The first installation consecrated the new appointment of our national leaders, Commissioners W. Todd and Carol A. Bassett. Family members held the flags as the General challenged the Bassetts to remember to lead the nation based on the Word of God (represented by the Bible), the work God has given The Salvation Army, (represented by the flag), and the work of the Holy Spirit as represented by the Mercy Seat. He concluded the ceremony by pointing to the congregation and saying: “These people gathered here represent the people you are called to serve.”
The second installation consecrated the new appointment of Eastern territorial leaders Commissioners Lawrence R. and Nancy A. Moretz. We were all blessed as four-year-old Esteban Garzon Moretz prayed for his grandparents asking God to bless them and help them be good leaders.
The evening concluded with a challenge by the General using a very simple illustration from an ad showing parking spaces. Who will have parking spaces in heaven? He answered: those who love God and love others. The General called for a time of dedication and prayed: “God give us the guts to love one another, so that we can be like Jesus.”
People moved forward quickly to spend time at the mercy seat. The response was genuine as people came to ask God to help them love the unlovable. “Jesus said that he went to prepare a place for us and that could actually include a parking place!” said General Gowans.
I add my own prayers that God would help us all be more like Jesus so we can have a parking place in heaven.