Meaningful worship, celebration and positive community witness were the highlights of meetings led by the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Brian Peddle, and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries) during their Easter weekend visit to Norwich Citadel, United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland.
Their prayer that this particular Good Friday would be a significant and life-changing day found an echo in many hearts. In his message, the Chief described Jesus as taking the central place in a ‘pageant orchestrated by God’. Remember, he said, that Good Friday actually began some hours earlier in Gethsemane, where Jesus had chosen to accept God’s will, rather than his own safety, for our sakes.
The contributions of corps music sections greatly added to the occasion. Especially meaningful were recurring verses of the spiritual, ‘Were You There’, sung by the band at various points during the meeting, ‘Written In Red’ by the songsters, and the singing company’s soulful ‘Feel The Nails’, accompanied by a very effective mother-and-daughter mime. At the conclusion of their song, as the children knelt facing the large wooden cross that dominated the platform, members of the congregation joined the Chief in placing nails at the foot of the cross. Some also knelt in rededication at the mercy seat.
The commissioners then headed the traditional corps march of witness to the city’s marketplace, where they chatted with bystanders at the open-air meeting.
On what Commissioner Rosalie Peddle later described in her epilogue as ‘Holy Saturday’, Easter celebrations continued with a stirring musical programme, led by Bandmaster Richard Woodrow. Five young corps musicians were the featured soloists. Grace Frost (vocal), Tom Carr and Daniel Frost (both cornet), Tom Grimshaw (euphonium) and Grace Duthie (flute) all communicated the Easter message through their talent, enthusiasm and versatility.
Easter Sunday morning gave flautist Grace another reason to celebrate: she began her faith journey with enrolment as an adherent by corps officer Major Andrew Diaper-Clausen, testifying to the awareness of God’s guidance in her decision.
In his address the Chief of the Staff urged Christians not to live in the shadow of doubt or fear, but to step out boldly in the light of Jesus: ‘We are post-Easter people,’ he said. Three people responded to his message in rededication.
An empty city centre brought the decision to take Sunday’s march of witness on a different route through a nearby housing estate.
On Sunday evening, the Chief thanked corps members for ‘being The Salvation Army in your community’ before giving a brief but detailed insight into its work around the world. He spoke movingly about two leading Zambian Salvation Army officers recently killed in a car crash, the seemingly unstoppable growth in Africa, the challenges facing Salvationists in Latin America, and his admiration for the response to Europe’s migrant problems.
In the final address of the weekend, Commissioner Peddle reiterated the need to show the ‘living hope’ of the Resurrection in daily life.