General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women’s Ministries) spent the Easter weekend with hundreds of worshippers on the south coast of England at the Boscombe Easter Convention. Tens of thousands more people heard the General share his personal reflections on Easter Sunday through a series of live BBC radio interviews. The town’s Easter Convention began 58 years ago under the leadership of General Albert Orsborn.
Holy Thursday saw the international leaders, supported by divisional leaders Lieut-Colonels Karen and David Shakespeare, relax with the congregation in quiet contemplation. In ‘The Upper Room’, Boscombe Corps Band and Songsters provided meditative music interspersed with Scripture readings. The symbolism of the washing of feet at the Last Supper was followed by a prayer vigil to enter into God’s presence for the weekend.
‘The Power of the Cross’ was the focal point of a deeply devotional Good Friday meeting, featuring a dramatisation of nails being driven into a cross. Boscombe Singing Company and Young People’s Band participated and Commissioner Silvia Cox’s impassioned Bible message emphasised the significance of the crucifixion having taken place during Passover week – a ‘once-for-all’ sacrifice.
In the evening, the Divisional Youth Chorus led a creative prayer session, with musical contributions including ‘Don’t Cry’ and an oboe performance of Bach’s ‘Passion Chorale’ by Divisional Bandmaster Stephen Smith. Lieutenant Vicky Crawford (Salisbury Corps) and Divisional Youth Officer Laurence Bennett gave their testimonies. ‘There can be no better day than Good Friday,’ said the General in his address, ‘because this was when God gave us new citizenship and a new identity’.
Saturday evening’s paean of praise involved contrasting pieces brought by the music sections, soloists and timbrels. The General gave a Bible thought before band, songsters and congregation joined for the finale of Handel’s ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ and ‘Amen Chorus’.
Easter Sunday began with the General taking part in live interviews on BBC Local Radio stations in the south of England and Channel Islands. Speaking to presenter Tim Daykin, the General passionately explained why Easter is so important: ‘It’s all about hope, it’s about life, it’s about God reaching out to the world in love … As we think of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the extent that God was willing to go to reach out to this world is incredible. Easter is about Jesus coming back to life, which opens the way for us to look forward to eternal life.’
In Boscombe, the hall was full to capacity. A worshipful atmosphere prevailed during which Commissioner Silvia Cox spoke frankly about her early doubts before eventually accepting the ‘joy of a risen Lord’ in her heart. The General spoke of the priceless gift Jesus gave to the world by his resurrection. ‘He brought hope to the hopeless,’ said the General, ‘and we are a people of hope.’ The General later took the salute during a march of witness to Bournemouth Pier, where an open-air meeting subsequently ministered to more than 600 people.
In the final act of worship on Sunday evening, Commissioner Cox spoke from the perspective of the women who went to the empty tomb about the ‘impossibility’ of the Resurrection. But, she said, it was ‘belief in the impossible which changed the world.’ Several seekers knelt at the mercy seat in response.
After the benediction, the General and Commissioner Cox also knelt at the mercy seat, under the flag, as corps officer Major Ray Begley prayed over them.