World leaders visit South Africa for 140th anniversary celebrations
“We thank God for the many blessings received during the 140-year celebration Congress in the Southern Africa Territory,” wrote General Lyndon Buckingham on his Facebook page. “We pray for the leadership, officers and soldiers as they embark on their strategic plan 'moving forward together, side by side'. God bless the Southern Africa Territory.”
The international leaders of The Salvation Army – General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World President of Women’s Ministries) – were the guests of honour at the celebration of 140 years of The Salvation Army’s presence in South Africa on 22-24 September. This event included the Congress, an officers council, outreach events and meeting local dignitaries.
The General and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham also received the ‘Torch of Divine Power’ during their visit. As part of the anniversary celebrations, each of the eight divisions of the territory lit a torch as a symbol of reigniting the fiery passion shared by those who began the Army in the territory 140 years ago. The eight divisions came together at the Congress with their unique flames to light one torch.
Throughout the Congress meetings, the international guests were supported by the Southern Africa territorial leaders, Commissioners Torben and Deise Eliasen. More than 4000 participants represented all nine provinces in South Africa, as well as Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and the Island of Saint Helena.
An all-female band led the festivities, with a youth band and other songsters and worship groups contributing.
Salvationists also engaged in outreach initiatives, including open-air events, street ministry activities and a meal and food parcels for needy families, which created opportunities to share Jesus with local people in both Durban and Pietermaritzburg (100km to the north-west). “These efforts expressed The Salvation Army's commitment to alleviating the struggles of the communities they serve in Southern Africa,” the General said.
The international leaders joined a Salvation Army delegation at Pietermaritzburg City Hall to meet with and pray for the mayor and social development officials to support local networks in a shared commitment to addressing social issues and fostering positive change in communities.
In the Southern Africa Territory today, there are nearly 250 corps and outposts in South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, the Island of St Helena and Swaziland where the Christian message is preached in 10 languages.