This year marks the 125th Anniversary of The Salvation Army ‘opening fire’ in the Maritime Division. In those early years, there was much curiosity about their methods and message but the seed of Salvationism took root. It has stood the test of time. While methods may change over the years, the message must remain constant. We are a “Salvation” Army and we must “stand for Christ, for Christ alone”.
The Division has embraced the theme “Rooted in Hope” for this year of celebrations. Various commemorations are planned in several communities, but the celebrations were launched during the Territorial Commander’s visit to Halifax on April 9-11.
Territorial Commanders for Canada & Bermuda, Commissioners William and Marilyn Francis, had a whirlwind of activity marking this anniversary. This included a renaming ceremony of the Booth Centre complex in the heart of Halifax – now known as “The Centre of Hope”.
Soon after, the Commissioners visited the Maritime Divisional Headquarter unveiled an extraordinary gift of hope and music: the symbolic “125 Guitar” crafted by renowned luthier George Rizsanyi.
James Taylor, Keith Richards, Sting and Peter Gabriel are among the performers who play unique, handcrafted Rizsanyi guitars. In addition, George built the iconic Six String Nation guitar from 63 pieces of Canadian history, including a piece of decking from the Bluenose II, a piece of Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick and wood from Pier 21.
Saturday evening, a private Civic Reception welcomed the Lieut Governor of Nova Scotia, The Honourary Mayann Francis, Rear Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Joint Task Force Atlantic and many key volunteers and supporters. This was followed by a “Festival of Praise” Concert with a capacity crowd at The Full Gospel Church in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. An unforgettable evening of music was provided. Participants included the combined brass bands of Halifax Citadel/Fairview Citadel, (Peter van der Horden/Keith Haggett) vocalists Wendy Birt and Norm Longuard, the Spryfield Girls’ Chorale led by Wendy Birt, xylophone soloist Joe Bovie from the navy’s Stadacona Band. The evening was emceed by humourist Bill Carr, one of The Army’s biggest boosters in the region.
The United Worship Service on Sunday witnessed the largest gathering of Salvationist since the Congress of 2002 with over 400 gathered at historic Pier 21 where the Army reconnected with its roots to the past as one of the key organizations that welcomed New Canadians to their home on the shores of Halifax. More than 1 million immigrants arrived in Canada in this building between the 1920s and 1971 and nearly 500,000 soldiers departed for the Second World War from here. One of the highlights of the Worship Service was the enrolment of 10 Junior Soldiers and 11 Senior Soldiers.
The Territorial Leaders will be visiting the Maritime Division again in September when 125th Anniversary Celebrations will continue in Charlottetown, PE.
More photos of the event can be found here.