We continued the celebration of the 145th Corps Anniversary of Chatham 16th Corps, Commanding Officer Major Ian F Payne, under the leadership of Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill and Commissioner Gillian Cotterill, supported by our Divisional Commanders Majors Mark and Linda Herbert.
Commissioner Gillian led the opening song, after a welcome by Major Ian Payne. Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise followed by a prayer chorus ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’ and a prayer by Songster Jean Jones. The Singing Company’s contribution to worship was ‘Come join our Army’.
It was a thrill for Major Ian to welcome Roxan Sven Moyston as an adherent with an endorsement by the TC as witness and a prayer.
Major Mark Herbert read the Scripture from 2 Timothy 1:1-12. He gave thanks for our CO in bringing blessing to our Corps.
SA Song 843 was sung which echoed the words of Scripture. ‘I know not why God’s wondrous grace’. Martin Davis then sang ‘He’s always been faithful’.
Bandsman Andrew Smith was invited onto the platform to receive his commission as Corps Treasurer from the TC. He then testified to God’s leading in his life and the challenges he experienced in balancing his lifestyle of work and worship finishing with song words ‘Keep on believing, Jesus is near’.
The Songsters’ ministry was ‘The Prayer’, the words of which Commissioner Anthony quoted when he began his message. ‘Give us faith so we’ll be safe’.
He said that it was truly great for Gillian and himself to be here at Chatham where, over the years they had spent as soldiers of the Corps, they had felt it to be an embracing and welcoming place where the love of God is shown. They have found themselves telling people wherever they go about Chatham. He recalled testimonies from a converted policeman and a prostitute and the extensive use of the Mercy Seat. Looking back is good, to see where we have come from, he said. In the History of the Salvation Army, Vol 1, he saw that the Christian Mission was started by Catherine Booth, the Army Mother, when James Dowdle, aged 33, raised the flag on 18 November 1873. James Dowdle was a well known pioneer in the Salvation Army having been a converted railway guard.
TC Anthony’s parents were members of the Peacemakers Session 1948-49 which also included Peter Muller, a converted German POW, who had been a soldier of Chatham Corps whilst in a local POW camp. We are in awe of the people of those days who were brave and strong in their witness. TC Anthony said that in the scripture reading Paul thanks God for Timothy. How I thank God for the sincere faith generationally of those who have gone before. We thank God for them. Paul says something which will define us. ‘In the light of what we can see, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is within you’. The world needs a Salvation Army that is on fire, not just warm and cosy. Be brave and bold in the power of the Holy Spirit. Be the fire that beacons the way for people to come to Christ. It’s almost inevitable that in some seasons we are just hanging in there and become physically drained. Jesus says, Matt 11:28 ‘Come to me’. Be harnessed with God. There is another dynamic at play which, when released, has the power to change the world. There is a spirit of self discipline. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit as promised in Acts 1. Why is Paul telling Timothy, and us this morning? It is because of our sincere faith. The chapters of history to be written need to be about Spirit-led and Spirit-filled people who intentionally lead ‘fanned-into-flame lives’ contagiously sharing the love and hope. It’s what our communities need.
The singing of ‘Move Holy Spirit’ gave opportunity for response when people knelt at the Mercy Seat. ‘Faithful God’ confirmed his faithfulness to us. ‘I’ll go in the strength of the Lord’ was a good sending out song.
The afternoon meeting was in the form of ‘On the sofa’ when TC Anthony and Gill were questioned about their lives and they generously shared with us many details of how they met, their Christian development, special experiences during their lives and the impact it had on them. It isn’t possible to repeat here all that was said but special thanks was given to all those who are involved in Youth work. Gill said that her favourite verse is Ephesians 3:20-21. She said that she had seen things that she thought couldn’t happen, actually happen as promised in this verse. Anthony said that when they were new in the role as Principals of the William Booth College he had been inspired by the tower and felt that it should be a beacon of light and glory. He had an understanding that the WBC would be where the splendour would be made known. ‘We get hooked up on the way we do things but far more important is that the Spirit of God should be upon us. The Salvation Army is at its best when we are dispersed – in our work places, our homes, on the bus and in the street. This is the underlying revelation of God to his people.’
Songs chosen by them were ‘Who’ll be the next’, ‘My life must be Christ’s broken bread’, ‘At the moment of my weakness (His Provision) and ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me now’.
Songster Lisa Davis sang ‘Share my Yoke’ with band accompaniment.
Songsters sang ‘Let me fly with you’ and the Band played the march ‘Jubilee’. As a benediction and blessing for the TCs, the Songsters sang ‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee’. Major Ian said to the Territorial Leaders that we promised to pray for them especially when times come that could be difficult and maybe they have to say something that people don’t want to hear. We will be supporting them with our prayers.
The sending out song to complete the weekend was SA Song 980 ‘Soldiers of our God arise’.
What a great week-end we’ve had. The prayers at the beginning of the day that God’s presence would be with us, that our hearts would be opened to receive the message and that we would shine for the Lord as we were anointed with the Holy Spirit were answered. Thank you Lord.