A CAPACITY crowd filled Centennial Memorial Temple in New York City, USA, to greet General Linda Bond. The General was visiting the USA Eastern Territory to welcome the 39 cadets of the Proclaimers of the Resurrection Session.
The meeting opened in festive spirit, with upbeat music from the New York Staff Band (NYSB), Eastern Territorial Songsters and a contemporary worship band. Then came the entrance of territorial leaders Commissioners R. Steven and Judith A. Hedgren, USA National leaders Commissioners William A. and Nancy L. Roberts and the General.
General Bond said. 'I appreciate the welcome and the honour you show me as the international leader of The Salvation Army, but please remember, all the glory goes to Jesus. The one thing we really must do tonight is lift up the name of Jesus!'
Commissioner Steven Hedgren commended all the Salvation Army officers, soldiers and volunteers who have been serving around the territory, helping people who lost so much as a result of Hurricane Irene. 'You've given people a taste of the ministry of The Salvation Army that will last a long time,' he said.
The General and the territorial leaders stood on the steps leading to the platform to exchange Salvation Army salutes with the cadets, who marched in behind their divisional youth leaders and divisional leaders. When the cadets had all taken their place on stage, loud cheers went up from the congregation.
'Don't we need them?' asked Commissioner Judith Hedgren. Before she presented the sessional flag, the commissioner displayed two other Salvation Army flags – one that had been to the moon and another that was tattered from 130 years of use. The new session's flag, she said, 'is about victory, as you march forward to proclaim the Resurrection.'
In her Bible message the General told the congregation: 'The Salvation Army has one message: the transforming message of Jesus Christ. We are people of the Resurrection!'
The evening before, at a welcome dinner for cadets at the School for Officer Training, she had told the Proclaimers of the Resurrection that their name would define them.
This message was echoed by Territorial Candidates Secretary Major Thomas Lyle. 'You have a good name, and you will be branded by that name,' he said. 'You are not only a Resurrection people; you are people who will proclaim the truth with Resurrection power.'
The General said that, out of duty, the cadets would want to live up to their name. 'But I have to say to you, that will not be enough,' she added. She reminded the cadets of the 'burning hearts' of disciples who travelled with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. When they realised that it was the resurrected Jesus who had spoken to them, she said, 'They went immediately to Jerusalem to say, "Jesus is alive!"'
At the welcome meeting, the General emphasised the importance of the Army continuing to proclaim 'Jesus is alive!'.
She said, as she had at the cadets' dinner the evening before, that she had been deeply moved to read in recent copies of The War Cry and the territory's Good News! publication of the Army's service following the 9/11 attacks 10 years earlier.
'What I have to say to you is, "Thank you." You are on a mission. You are doing it!' She asked: 'Are you all on a mission here? Wouldn't that be wonderful, if every Salvationist were on a mission?'
She called for Salvationists in the territory to join others from around the world by signing up to pray on Thursday mornings for 30 minutes between 5am-8am, so that prayer will circle the world.
'We must be faithful to the work and do our duty,' she added. 'I believe if we do that, revival will come.'
When General Bond called people to dedication and reconsecration at the mercy seat, large numbers went forward in response.
Earlier in the day the General had been the keynote speaker at the American Bible Society (ABS) in Manhattan. The occasion was the launch of The Freedom Bible, Global Edition. The event, on 9 September, also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
USA Eastern Territory leaders and the NYSB joined in the official launch of what ABS Executive Vice-President Robert Briggs called 'a new resource of hope'. The Bible, inscribed with the Jesus words: 'The truth will set you free', has 3,500 'liberating verses' highlighted. The back cover of the Global Edition carries the endorsement of Commissioner Christine MacMillan, director of the Army's International Social Justice Commission.
Jerry Sillcocks, President of Firefighters for Christ's New York Chapter, offered a compelling and compassionate rationale for why Christians must share the Good News. 'The week before 9/11 we shared the gospel with 10 guys,' he said. 'Half of them went to their death within a week. It was their first fire.'
General Bond spoke of the Army's response to the 9/11 attacks. Addressing the question: 'Where was God on 9/11?' the General said: 'He was in the stairwells; he was running up the stairs with the firemen; he was on Flight 93 when they decided to say: "Let's roll!" The God we serve is there with us.'
Main report by Linda D. Johnson, with additional material from Warren L. Maye