The Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson lead Easter celebrations in Maidstone, UK
Three seekers knelt at the mercy seat at the conclusion of the Good Friday morning meeting at Maidstone Corps as the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, challenged people to respond to the message of the Cross.
“We are living in a world of pain, sorrow, anger and injustice,” he said, “but Christians have hope. We are looking forward to Resurrection Sunday.”
Home League Secretary Jacqui Hall gave a challenging testimony as she told the congregation that the Lord had given her “a miraculous healing” after she suffered cardiac arrest and had to undergo open-heart surgery last year.
An open-air meeting, led by the Rev. Clifford Newman, (Maidstone Methodist Circuit) followed a Churches Together march of witness through the town. The Chief spoke about how the cross has universal significance.
World President of Women’s Ministries, Commissioner Sue Swanson, was the guest at the Saturday morning Ladies Prayer Breakfast, where 50 people attended. The Commissioner invited them to “come and see” Jesus for themselves and then to go and tell others.
The hall was full for the Saturday evening meeting, which commenced with the band playing the march “Stars and Stripes” as the American commissioners entered. The Square Mile Gospel Choir, made up of corps members and people from the community, sang two numbers. The “Square Mile Covenant” is an initiative the corps has undertaken to touch the lives of everyone within the immediate area around the corps building during the next four to five years.
‘’If 10 per cent of those people came we would have to build three new corps,” said Corps Organizing Secretary Keith Thomas in his introduction. “If we don’t reach out we’ll never extend the Kingdom.” The choir’s song, “Prayer For The Town,” confirmed this belief.
In her testimony, Commissioner Sue Swanson told how she came to faith in Christ. The band played “Jesus Folk” and the Revelation Worship Group from Sittingbourne took part.
The Chief of the Staff spoke about Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who he described as “secret disciples.” Referring to the Square Mile Covenant, he noted that the initiative “will not be achieved through secret discipleship. It will happen when men and women stand up for Jesus.”
After a sunrise service on Easter Sunday, the morning meeting commenced with the songsters presenting “Alleluia!” and the congregation singing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” before Colonel Martha Pressland, prayed. Following the choir’s contribution, Major Grayson Williams (corps officer) enrolled Anneleise Brice as a senior soldier and Dorothy Graves as an adherent member. Anneleise and Dorothy knelt at the mercy seat before the major presented them to the corps family. The songsters sang “He Had to Hold to Calvary,” with soloist Nathan Cripps. Andrea Ashman performed a worship dance to the song “To Thy Cross I Come, Lord.”
In his Bible message, the Chief of the Staff spoke about the “wonderful moment” when, after his resurrection, Jesus called Mary’s name. “That’s when Easter happens for us—when we hear our name,” he said. After his invitation for people to kneel at the mercy seat many came forward.
The meeting concluded with the band playing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” There was an open-air meeting in Mote Park in the afternoon. The weekend culminated with evening worship with the theme ‘YES!’ Major Raelton Gibbs prayed before the songsters gave a presentation of “I Know A Fount,” accompanied by readings and multimedia images.
In a humorous segment, Commissioner Sue Swanson brought out her ukulele and, along with members of the band, sang the chorus “Father, We Love You” before new soldier Anneleise Brice gave her testimony.
“The Lord has been nudging me towards soldiership for some time,” she said. Picking up on the Chief of the Staff’s theme from the morning meeting she added: “I don’t want to be a secret disciple. I know God has work for me here and I can be more effective wearing this uniform.”
The band then played “Introit on Easter Hymn” and a choral group sang “The Empty Tomb.” Commissioner Sue Swanson spoke about the criminals who were crucified with Jesus: one who said “No” to Jesus, the other who said, “Yes.”
“The cross forever stands between these two answers,” she concluded.
Following her invitation to say, “Yes” to Jesus, people went forward to the mercy seat.
The weekend concluded with the congregation singing “Thine Is the Glory.”
From an international news release