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‘Count me in!’ says 22nd General of The Salvation Army at official welcome

General Lyndon and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham give the salute at their public welcome in London.

Salvationists and friends worldwide united in person and online for the official public welcome of General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World President of Women’s Ministries) at The Salvation Army’s Regent Hall in London on Sunday 3 September.

A musical prelude including the International Staff Band (ISB) and International Staff Songsters (ISS) ministered to the congregation as they arrived at this historic and spiritual event.

Welcome from the Chief

The Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Edward Hill, thanked everyone for their support as he officially welcomed the new international leaders.

“We have great admiration and respect for you. General and Commissioner, we are fully supportive of your ministry. We have a very positive vision of The Salvation Army of the future ... our vision is for a growing Salvation Army … and not just in certain places around the globe, but in every zone … We ask, ‘Will you partner with us?’”

Commissioner Hill prayed, thanking God for the faithful service of the Buckinghams and asking for his presence, wisdom and blessings to be upon them.

Lyndon Buckingham is the first General from New Zealand.

First General from NZ

As the first General from New Zealand, General Lyndon Buckingham gave his initial greeting to the global Army world in Māori and then English. He assured those gathered that, “You can be certain that we will serve with all we have for the glory of God and his Kingdom.”

The ISS then sang On the Rock, followed by a Scripture reading and a short film produced by the International Children and Youth Advisory Group. Commissioner Hill recognised the wisdom of the film and acknowledged that the young people in it may be the future of The Salvation Army.

Colonel Hary Haran (a member of the General’s Consultative Council), speaking for The Salvation Army around the world, said, “This moment has been much awaited. I humbly remind you that it is God who has placed you in this role. Now it is required that those that have been given the trust must prove faithful. Know that the Army regards you as servants of Christ. Know that we love and trust you. You are faithful. On behalf of our international movement, we recognise you as our international leaders. General, a divided house will not stand – unite us. Shepherd us. Minister to us with your vision and lead us from the front.”

Commissioner Buckingham spoke about youth in her address.

Support for youth

Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham then addressed the meeting. Recognising the vital part that young people have to play in the future of the movement, she said, “I believe we have a generation rising up to take their place in this Army and I want to be amongst their loudest supportive cheerleaders! My prayer today is that we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to do and be what pleases him, all for God’s glory.”

Commissioner Norman Howe said, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. It is not for me to recognise this leadership. That is the function of the Spirit. My message for General Lyndon Buckingham is simple – please keep the Christian mission at the heart of The Salvation Army.”

A Maori blessing was an important part of the service.

A Māori blessing

Captain Hana Seddon and Major Campbell Roberts, Nan Patea and her son Hohepa then gave a Māori blessing as the General and Commissioner Bronwyn were lovingly wrapped in feathered Korowai (feathered Māori cloak) and blessed.

General Buckingham responded to the congregation, saying, “You have blessed and honoured us today, and we are humbled. Thank you.” He described some of the early Army (and family) history, before saying, “In November of 1882, William Booth called together a ‘War Gathering’. During that meeting, he commissioned around 90 officers whom he despatched all around the world. What motivates people to make themselves available to God and the Army?”

Salt and light

The General shared the things his research had shown as part of their motivation. He said, “They all testified to a life-transforming encounter with God that completely changed them – to be forgiven, cleansed and embraced and to understand the love God has for them. They wanted to share this with other people. This is the DNA of our movement! They had a genuine concern and care for other people; for lost, vulnerable, hurting, disadvantaged people. They demonstrated this not just by the things that they said, but by the things that they did. They had a desire to demonstrate the values of the gospel. This is our heritage! They had a deep desire to glorify God with their living. I love that! The very living of their lives would be salt and light.

Heartfelt and vibrant worship was a key element throughout the service.

“This was their simple strategy: to know him and to make him known. To care for others and pursue the holy life. I rejoice that there are men and women all over the world today captured by these three great ideas. I celebrate it in our movement.

He continued, “This surely is the time for the Body of Christ to rise up. To agree that this is what we exist for. Let’s get on with it! To this, I am absolutely 100 per cent committed – how about you? Do not underestimate how the Kingdom of God will use us. You can change the world!’

The Haka was then performed by Captain Daniel Buckingham, Captain Hana Seddon and Nan Patera, then acknowledged with warm applause.

Count me in

The General said, “We have more resources now than we have ever had. We have people all around the world. We have people who need to see demonstrations of the love of God, and, by golly, this world needs to see God-filled people. There is so much more that we could be doing. Count me in!”

General Buckingham invited the congregation to join him and Commissioner Bronwyn at the mercy seat as the ISS and IHQ worship team sang a selection of spiritual songs. The General prayed that the Lord would keep us “on mission”.

Commissioner Hill closed with a benediction.

For the full version of this story, click here.


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