24 January 2024

Welcome to the TLs: In need of countercultural grace

Major Julian Watchorn

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Major Julian Watchorn reports on the official welcome of Territorial Leaders Commissioners Jenine and Paul Main.

The territory’s focus fell on central London as leaders, soldiers, members, friends and family came together for the installation and welcome of Territorial Leaders Commissioners Jenine and Paul Main. In addition to those in the hall were those watching online by livestream.

Assistant Chief Secretary Major Paul Kingscott welcomed the congregation and, linking to the pre-meeting programme of music, affirmed that what was to come was intended to be about God and his glory alone. Special welcome was given to international and ecumenical leaders as well as the International Staff Band, the International Staff Songsters, Bromley Temple Singing Company and Youth and the Regent Hall worship group.

Breaking with the expected traditional entry to a rousing march, the leaders solemnly entered the hall to the majestic tones of William Himes’s ‘Procession to Covenant’. The congregation was invited to stand and acclaim as the piece came to its climactic conclusion – joining in song with the words ‘O love that will not let me go’. It was a moving and fitting beginning to what was to be a God-filled afternoon.

General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham
General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham

General Lyndon Buckingham greeted the congregation, commending the Mains as people of God who have faithfully demonstrated their commitment over many years and in many settings. He welcomed them into their new appointment, highlighting the significance of this public acceptance of their new responsibilities. Asked if they accepted these commitments, in keeping with the promises they had already made, both responded firmly: ‘I do.’

World President of Women’s Ministries Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham outlined their primary purposes as territorial leaders, as well as those of the wider Salvation Army.

The territorial leaders were invited to spend time in prayerful reflection at the mercy seat and seal their commitments, as the ISS and soloist Rob Moye (THQ) sang ‘In Need’ and ‘Grace Alone’. The congregation stood to join the final verse, affirming: ‘We will go forth in grace alone.’

Lieut-Colonel Drew McCombe (THQ) and Rosemary Steadman-Allen (Chatham) prayed before the General formally installed the Mains as territorial leaders. The congregation responded with warm, prolonged and affirming applause.

Powerful corporate worship led by the Regent Hall worship group preceded a time of playful questions and answers between Bromley Temple Singing Company and Youth and the new territorial leaders.

A photo of Colonels Peter and Julie Forrest
Colonels Peter and Julie Forrest

Commissioner Paul then addressed the congregation. He pledged that they would give of their best. He gave thanks for their heritage, honouring their parents who had taught them the truths of the gospel and encouraged them to follow Jesus. He confirmed that they were going to lead together and would seek to be models of equity and equality. As charged by the General in their installation – and with due acknowledgement of their surname – he said that they are going to strive to keep the main thing the main thing and would call on the territory to do the same. Quoting from each of the Gospels, Commissioner Paul spoke of Christ’s command to go and make disciples. Calling us back to our first love, he urged all to keep salvation at the heart of The Salvation Army, against a backdrop of loving God and loving others, to see the central purpose of our mission as the proclamation of the gospel.

Further music from the ISB followed, and Colonels Peter and Julie Forrest received a thoughtful welcome from representatives of their department as they begin their roles as chief secretary and territorial secretary for leader development respectively. Colonel Peter acknowledged the welcome and welcomed prayer as they continue to learn while leading. The colonel then led the congregation in singing ‘Be Thou My Vision’ (SASB 573).

Pastor Brian Campbell of Christian Life Centre Wolverhampton brought a Bible reading from Ephesians 3:14 to 4:6. He also commended the Mains as gifts of grace to the territory.

Commissioners Jenine and Paul Main
Commissioners Jenine and Paul Main

The ISS sang ‘Serve by Love’ before Commissioner Jenine brought her message. Quoting from an interview she gave in Salvationist, she spoke of the challenge of being bold and taking Holy Spirit-led risks demonstrating the countercultural, upside-downness of the Kingdom.

She asked us to consider if we had become too safe. God’s Kingdom is radical. We therefore need to live boldly. Kingdom life is not only seen in service but also in our being. Within that upside-downness we can have love, joy and peace – emotions that challenge the norm.

This life is not to be kept for ourselves. We need to challenge one another. We may need to stand out. We need to demonstrate that we trust the God of the impossible.

We want to see this corporately, locally and individually. We need to dare to be different. We need to count on each other to do this. She then challenged everyone to live boldly and to commit to radical Kingdom living. As people were given opportunity to respond, ‘In Need’ was sung again.

Colonel Julie led a final rousing rendition of ‘O Church, Arise, and Put Your Armour On’ (SASB 819) sending us out to live boldly. Commissioner Bronwyn concluded proceedings with a benediction before the ISB sent us on our way with ‘The Rescuers’.

Written by

Photo of Julian Watchorn.

Major Julian Watchorn

Editor, Salvationist magazine

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