In its 125th year of mission, Divisional Commander Major Jenine Main (Central South) and corps members welcomed Chief of the Staff Commissioner William Roberts and World Secretary for Women’s Ministries Commissioner Nancy Roberts to share in Easter celebrations at Staines (corps officers, Majors Paul and Gillian Billard), in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland. In doing so, their visit brought encouragement, challenge and blessing to all in attendance.
Beginning on Maundy Thursday, the commissioners led a devotional meeting, reflecting on the Passover meal and the unforgettable nature of its meaning and purpose. The simple meal that followed allowed that same spirit of love and forgiveness to flourish.
Associate officer Major John Martin led Good Friday worship, in which the theme 'An Unbelievable Sight' was reiterated through Scripture, music and prayer. The Chief of the Staff reminded the large congregation that the crucifixion was an event of supreme importance in the life of the Christian and, in turn, for the whole world. Musical contributions added to the worship experience and included ‘Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs’ (Staines Songsters) and ‘Standing Somewhere In The Shadows’ (Staines Band). Songster Cath Maughan sang the beautiful arrangement, ‘Behold The Lamb Of God'.
Easter Day celebrations commenced with a breakfast after which the morning meeting, led by Major Jenine Main, focused upon the ‘Undeniable Truth’ in which she suggested that Easter people need to continue to demonstrate the truths of the gospel in everyday living. The beginning of the meeting featured a sensitive Bible presentation by Tim and Jennie Hopkin and their children, Amy and Maggie. In his prayer, Stuart Elliott gave thanks for the events of Good Friday and rejoiced for the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday. Staines Singing Company presented ‘Behold The Lamb Of God’, and in his message the Chief of the Staff spoke about bearing witness to the resurrection and the empty tomb. He encouraged the congregation to forgive others and to tell and live the story.
An Easter songs of praise followed, featuring the junior timbrelists and the music sections. Corps members Rodney and Hannah Kingston reminded the congregation that the love of Jesus is for the whole world, referring to recent world events in Kenya and France. In her testimony, Bethany Parker spoke profoundly about her recent devotional life. She said: ‘The generosity of God in sending his Son to die for us has helped me to see that I must be generous and constant in my love for him, as his grace never ends.’
Following the band selection ‘The Road To Emmaus’, Commissioner Nancy Roberts referred to her early life as a young Christian and the excitement that Easter brought to her and her family. She used the story of Thomas to remind the congregation that as Jesus purposefully went to Thomas and convinced him of the resurrection, so many in the world can experience a personal encounter with the risen Lord. The meeting concluded with the song ‘Up from the grave he arose’.