Salvationists called to action
by Jenni Ragland –
Flora Huntington is recognized for 30 years of League of Mercy ministry. With her are (l-r) Major Florence Murray, Commissioner Linda Bond, and Captain Mariam Rudd.
The Alaska family of Salvationists gathered in picturesque Petersburg to celebrate the 105th annual Alaska Congress. This was the first opportunity for Salvationists in Southeast Alaska to greet Commissioner Linda Bond, territorial commander, since her arrival in the Western Territory.
Under the direction of divisional leaders, Captains Bob and Mariam Rudd, every activity was held to challenge Salvationists to make a difference in our world for Christ. A brass ensemble from the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, under the leadership of B/M James Anderson, added to the Congress as they blessed delegates throughout the weekend with their musical talents.
The Welcome meeting signaled the opening of the Congress, beginning with the entrance of flags and banners representing each corps present. Bond echoed the Congress theme, “Come, Now is the Time” as she created a sense of urgency for Salvationists to return to our first mission—to save the lost. “Unless saving people is our passion” she challenged, “our existence is not justified.” She directed the delegates to regain our Christian heritage by focusing on two urgent priorities: First, we must have a burning passion for the lost, and second, we must align ourselves with God’s purpose and method as Christ’s ambassadors.
The weekend also served as a celebration of service. At the Women’s Rally, certificates were awarded recognizing the contribution of ladies to further the Women’s Ministry programs in their community. Special recognition was given to Vivian Braley for her many years of faithful service as the Home League Secretary, a position she held for nearly 20 years. At the League of Mercy breakfast, certificates were awarded to those who have achieved 5-35 years of service, carrying the Army’s practical ministry to people in need.
Young people attending Congress participated in a separate Youth Councils program directed by Captains John and Pam Brackenbury, with support from Cadet Jill Steiner representing the College for Officer Training. Based on I Timothy 4:8, the delegates were challenged through workshops, worship and fun events to “Get In The Game” and move from the sidelines to become active “team” members. During the Life Service Breakfast, Commissioner Linda Bond drove home the point by reminding the young people that currently there are 20-year-old men and women fighting a war for our country. Just as they are trained and equipped to be soldiers, we need to become fully trained and equipped soldiers for Christ in the battle for the lost by seeking out opportunities to witness, bring new people to church, and get involved in full-time Christian service as lay leaders or Salvation Army officers.
The Holiness and Memorial Service Sunday morning was a reminder of those who have been promoted to Glory. It was also a challenge to completely surrender to Christ and live according to his standard for holy living. Following Bond’s call to holiness, the white cross in the middle of the gym floor was lined with those seeking God’s healing and renewal.
“What difference does Congress make?” This was the question posed by Captain Bob Rudd during the Salvation Celebration before closing the Congress. He challenged those present to live as committed Christians by carrying Christ’s message of salvation to the lost in each of our communities, to nurturing the saints through our practical and caring ministries and to serve suffering humanity without discrimination. In practical terms, he challenged the Alaskan Salvationists to make a difference at the 2004 Congress by having Corps Sergeant-Majors from at least 12 corps involved in leading the Congress meetings; preparing four senior soldiers and four junior soldiers from each corps for enrollment during Congress; to not only achieve, but exceed, our self-denial goal and to have at least 300 delegates registered to attend Congress. The Congress concluded with a grand time of singing, praising and celebrating God’s goodness.
The 2004 Congress is scheduled to take place in Kake as a celebration of the Army’s 100th anniversary of ministry to that community.