Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson Witness Wonders in West Scotland
Altough he didn’t use the word ‘miracle’, the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) testified to having witnessed one on his arrival in west Scotland – the sun was shining! The fine weather didn’t last for the entire visit, but there was no lack of warmth and brightness in the ministry he and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women’s Ministries) gave to the congregations that eagerly awaited their visit to the West Scotland Division.
The supremacy of Jesus was acknowledged with the enthusiastic singing of ‘Crown Him with Many Crowns’, setting the tone for a challenging Sunday morning holiness meeting at Govan Corps in Glasgow.
The Chief commented on the inspiration he receives from his visits around the Salvation Army world. ‘Every Salvation Army centre is a mission station,’ he said, as he encouraged the congregation to first build the mission and then engage in the mission in Govan.
The songsters, young people’s band and singing company contributed helpfully to the meeting before Commissioner Sue Swanson, in a challenging message, urged the congregation to live and serve so that the glory of the Lord may be revealed in every aspect of life and service.
In the afternoon the Chief and Commissioner Sue Swanson moved on to Paisley for the West Scotland Divisional Celebration Rally. Salvationists gathered in the impressive Thomas Coats Memorial Church, known to many as the ‘Baptist Cathedral of Europe’. This Gothic-style church – with a spire rising to 240 feet above sea level, 350,000 pieces of coloured marble built into the vestibule floor, and lit by close to 1,000 bulbs – was an unusual yet remarkably appropriate place for Salvationists to gather in celebration. The yellow, red and blue Salvation Army flag added vibrancy to the natural beauty seen in the backdrop of wood and stone. The Chief later commented on the privilege of preaching in such surroundings.
The acoustics of the building lent richness to the congregational singing and to songs presented by the massed songsters. Bellshill Singing Company, superbly aided by soloist Miriam Mathie, delighted the congregation when they sang about being ‘a great big bundle of potential’!
Direct and encouraging personal witness was given by Bandmaster Bobby Weir (Airdrie) and Songster Sergeant Elma Stewart (Govan), and a brass ensemble enthralled the congregation with its playing of ‘O Magnum Majesterium’.
Commissioner Sue Swanson delighted the congregation with stories of driving in London before urging her listeners to cast their burden on the Lord and to trust him fully.
In his uplifting Bible message, the Chief reminded the congregation that saying ‘yes’ to Christ was the most important decision anyone could make. Referring to the splendour of the surroundings, he said that the church was more than wood, stone and glass and that every Christian must strive to live a life of love to reflect the true Body of Christ in the world.
The sense of commitment evidenced in the singing of the final song suggested the message had been well received. ‘I have given my all to God,’ the people sang.
As the Chief and Commissioner Sue Swanson mingled with the congregation after the meeting, the joyous ‘holy hubbub’ suggested this had been a celebration to remember.
The visit began at Glasgow West Corps, where the Swansons were special guests at a Women of the Word event, which this year also included a provision for men. Commissioner Sue Swanson ‘sacrificed’ a toy lamb as she studied coevnant, tracing the concept from Abraham through to Jesus.
Captain Lucy Mann (Greenock) said: ‘It was wonderful to delve deep into the Bible.’
The Chief led the study of Psalm 51 with members of the ‘Momentum’ men’s fellowship group. He spoke about dealing with temptation and charged his listeners to be honest about their relationship with God.
Report by Commissioner Keith Banks with additional material from Major Catherine Wyles