Commissioner Miriam Gluyas installed as Territorial Commander
BY MAJOR PETER MCGUIGAN
Commissioner Miriam Gluyas was welcomed as Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Australia in a vibrant meeting held at the Army’s Melbourne 614 Corps on Sunday 12 February. Hundreds of welcomers attended in person, and well over 1000 joined online.
But it wasn’t only people who ‘filled the temple’. Before a word was spoken, worship to God resounded through a praise prelude from the Melbourne Staff Band and Melbourne Staff Songsters that set the scene for what would be a God-honouring, inspiring start to the new commissioner’s leadership.
In her introduction, Chief Secretary Colonel Winsome Merrett acknowledged the presence of family members of Commissioner Gluyas; members of the Australia Territory Board; the Rev. John Gilmore, President of the National Council of Churches in Australia; and Commissioners Janine and Robert Donaldson, who would conduct the Installation Ceremony later in the meeting.
Colonel Merrett also gave some insight into what Salvos might expect from their new leader. “Commissioner Miriam Gluyas is a strategist, she’s a visionary, she’s a leader who seeks after God’s own heart. She’s mission-focused and comes to this appointment with significant leadership experience, having served in significant corps, divisional and territorial roles.
“She served in Papua New Guinea for a term, and I think all that did was grow her heart for the international Army. She was Divisional Commander in the NSW/ACT Division for seven years before taking up this appointment.
“We look forward to Miriam’s leadership and to seeing where God prompts her and where that takes us ... Miriam will bring her whole self to the spiritual leadership of this territory. We can expect her to be led by the Spirit and to consistently point us and others to Jesus. It is already a mark of her leadership, and we will expect no less.”
Colonel Merrett also acknowledged the commissioner’s boundless energy, adding that “it’s our job to keep up with her” and, in his Welcome to Country, Uncle Vince Ross noted that to Indigenous Australians, Commissioner Gluyas would be ‘Aunty Miriam’.
Brimbank Worship Group led the powerful praise songs ‘Our Redeemer’, ‘Goodness of God’ and ‘I Speak Jesus’ before Captain Elizabeth Kang prayed, praising God for his faithfulness, love and power, thanking God for blessing the mission of The Salvation Army; and seeking the power and presence of God’s Spirit.
Representative speakers then brought their own welcome on behalf of Salvationists across Australia. Major Linda Miller, representing officers, said she had been inspired by a pastoral letter and a video released by Commissioner Gluyas on her first day in office.
“Our paths haven’t crossed as yet,” said Major Miller, “... but on Wednesday 1 February, you wrote a pastoral letter to all who call The Salvation Army their spiritual home. You wrote with great hope, stating, ‘we have a big gospel; we have a big God’. As I stand here today representing spiritual leaders both past and present, from various appointments across this vast territory, I too stand with great hope, believing that you have been anointed and appointed for such a time as this.
“For if ever Australia needed our big gospel and even bigger God, it’s now. If ever The Salvation Army in Australia and indeed the world needed Holy Spirit-inspired and reliant leadership, it’s now. I believe that God is up to something good in appointing you, Commissioner, as our spiritual leader.
“There may be some who tend to believe that the best days of The Salvation Army in Australia are behind us. But I dare to dream, I dare to believe, I dare to have faith, I dare to hope, and I dare to trust God that under your leadership Commissioner (no pressure), the best days of The Salvation Army are ahead of us.”
Representing junior soldiers and young adults/senior soldiers, respectively, Hannah Balan (Whittlesea Corps) and Rosita Faatau (Wyndham City Corps) answered questions put to them by Major Matt Reeve about what it meant to them to be in The Salvation Army and following Jesus.
“I’m a junior soldier because I want to follow Jesus,” said Hannah, “and when I’m older to still follow Jesus ... Following Jesus means that I have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” “That’s a good list!” Major Reeve responded. Hannah also thanked members of her corps who were helping her to grow as a follower of Jesus.
Responding to the question, “What would you like to say to Commissioner Miriam on behalf of young adults across Australia?”, Rosita thanked her for her obedience and faithfulness and for answering God’s call upon her life. “The video you sent out radiated the Holy Spirit,” said Rosita. “It radiated your godliness, your Jesus-life ... We are here for you; we’re backing you all the way.”
Major Gregory Morgan introduced an offering supporting the work of The Salvation Army in Indonesia to create pathways for young people out of institutional care and into safe homes. While the offering was received, the Melbourne Staff Band and Brimbank Worship Group led a rousing rendition of the song ‘I’ll Fight’, based on the well-known William Booth oration.
Installation and response
After a Scripture reading from Luke 4:16-21, read by Aux-Lieutenant Rosy Keane, Commissioner Gluyas was installed as Territorial Commander by the Donaldsons. Commissioner Janine Donaldson commended the Australia Territory to Commissioner Gluyas and Commissioner Gluyas to the Australia Territory. She reminded her of the faithfulness of God through difficult times and of the promises she had made in the Junior Soldier’s Covenant, the Soldier’s Covenant and her Officer’s Covenant. “Miriam, you understand this journey, you’re one of the key influencers, you love God, inspire others with energy and joy.”
Commissioner Robert Donaldson shared a letter from General Brian Peddle, world leader of The Salvation Army. “It is with joy and confidence that I commend to you your new territorial leader Commissioner Miriam Gluyas,” the General had written. “She is wholly dedicated to God and to the great purpose for which he raised up The Salvation Army.
“Throughout her years of service as a Salvation Army officer, she has demonstrated steadfast loyalty to Christ and distinctive gifts of spiritual leadership. May God grant her strength, wisdom and every needed grace for her task. I urge her to be a person of prayer, filled with the Holy Spirit, moved with the compassion of Christ and faithful in her teaching of the Word of God.
“I charge her to be an example of holy living, a trustworthy shepherd of the Church of God, and a fervent evangelist with a vision for the salvation of the people, the growth of the Army, and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
“I call upon all Salvationists in the Australia Territory to receive your new leader with joy, supporting her in prayer and responding to her leadership with bold faith and unwavering devotion to Christ so that the name of Jesus may be glorified among you and his Kingdom extended. May God bless Commissioner Miriam Gluyas, may God bless The Salvation Army in Australia and may God bless The Salvation Army around the world.”
In sacred moments, the congregation stood as Commissioner Robert Donaldson officially installed Commissioner Gluyas as Territorial Commander of the Australia Territory. The Melbourne Staff Songsters presented the song of dedication, ‘Never Once’ (have we walked alone), and Commissioner James Condon prayed a dedicatory prayer, claiming the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon her leadership to “serve the present age”.
Responding, Commissioner Gluyas demonstrated that “a culture of honour” would mark her term as leader. “I just sense that God is going to do something new ... I really believe in a culture of honour. Salvation Army, we need to tell a new story in these days. People outside love us! Do we love ourselves? Do we believe in The Salvation Army that God raised up? Do we believe the best days are still ahead?”
She then personally honoured Commissioners Brian and Carolyn Morgan and Commissioners James and Jan Condon, who had supported her from the early days of her officer journey. Colonel Winsome Merrett and immediate-past Territorial Leaders Commissioners Donaldson were also honoured by Lieut-Colonel Winsome Mason and Major Beth Twivey, respectively. “This is going to be our culture,” said Commissioner Gluyas. “We build people up; we don’t tear down.”
Following a video upholding a vision of a healthy Salvation Army that “makes disciples and sees people transformed constantly” and is “led by the Spirit”, the new Territorial Commander brought an inspired message. “I see it, I believe it, and there’s lots of green shoots out there,” she encouraged. “God is doing a good work, and we get to be part of it.
“Jesus-centred, Spirit-led, hope revealed! Are you ready for that Salvation Army? We want to be led by the Spirit of God. We want to bring hope to this world. We are the people of hope. I hope you have not lost hope … [We transform Australia] one life at a time ‘with the love of Jesus’. Never leave that off.
She went on to highlight the calling of Jesus from Luke 4:16-21 and Isaiah 61:1-3 as being the Salvos’ calling. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on you, is on me,” she paraphrased, “that we might bring this good news to the poor” – beauty for ashes, oaks of righteousness.”
“When the Kingdom comes, God transforms everything – ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). We live in this now and not yet. We get to bring a part of heaven to earth right now to the people we come in contact with.
“Our gospel seems to have gotten very small. Have you noticed that? Why won’t people respond? It’s too small. We’re not a club. We’re a mission movement. I signed up because I believed that the world would be transformed by Jesus. I hope you’ve signed up for that purpose too. People want to sign up to something big. What do we say? Big Gospel, Big God! Where are the dreamers? Where are the creatives? Where are the songwriters? Where are those who will walk beside others? We are about ministry in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter if you have these on your shoulders or not (pointing to her officer epaulettes). It is the mission of all believers!
“We need to go,” she stressed. “We carry the gospel. We are not here to get people into church. We are here to get the church out to people ... We are to bring hope to our communities. We were created for community ... We are called to bring heaven now ... We need the fire of the Holy Spirit ... Jesus-centred, Spirit-led, hope revealed. Are you ready to bring ‘beauty instead of ashes’? Are you ready to stand firm as ‘oaks of righteousness’?
“I’m ready, and I believe it is line-in-the-sand time when we will say, ‘Yes, that’s who we are’. Let’s limit those distractions, limit that negativity. God called The Salvation Army into being for a purpose, and it’s a brilliant one.”
The meeting reached a stellar finale as the congregation sang again ‘I Speak Jesus’ and then, in full voice, ‘Send the Fire’ with all musicians supporting and Divisional Commander for Victoria Colonel Kelvin Merrett leading.
Major Peter McGuigan is a Salvation Army officer serving in Sydney. From 1 March 2023, he will be The Salvation Army’s Head of Government Relations for Australia.
To view the live stream of the Installation go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFQ9HeKJLK8&t=10s