More than 500 Salvationists journeyed by ferry, plane, road and rail to the 'Holy Spirit Congress' which took place in Inverness, Scotland, over Pentecost weekend under the leadership of General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries). The event was organised by the North Scotland Division of the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland.
The Northern Constabulary Community Pipe Band gave a traditional Scottish welcome to the international leaders on their arrival at Inverness's Eden Court Theatre, on the River Ness. As it was the start of the Highland tourist season, visitors mingled with Salvationists in the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’. The local community had already been made aware of the General's visit through an interview he gave to the Press and Journal newspaper.
The packed congress programme included three meetings, an open-air meeting in the city centre, a civic reception, an adult and family ministries rally, opportunities to meet the General and Commissioner Cox, children's drop-in worship events and after-hours entertainment for the division’s young people.
A music programme featured guest section Coventry City Band and soloist Marjory Watson, worship group Second Mile, and the debut of a specially-composed band piece called ‘The Presence and the Power’ by Andrew Mackereth. A newly-formed divisional congress band participated on Sunday afternoon.
The North Scotland Division includes three offshore island groups and many isolated corps (churches), so the opportunity to join together in fellowship over Pentecost weekend was all the more welcome. During Pentecost Sunday meetings the mercy seat was lined with people stepping forward in renewed faith. The General called Pentecost ‘an event which shook the world’ and challenged Salvationists and friends to be an ‘unstoppable fighting force’ for Christ in Scotland and elsewhere in the world.
Powerful testimonies were heard from those offering for officership from within the division, and Major Fiona Partland led interviews onstage with men and women who had heard and heeded God’s call on their lives. Film clips from several of the Army’s locations across the division featured community and social projects being undertaken in Dundee, Inverness, Stornoway, Oban, Aberdeen, Wick and Forfar. Service users witnessed to the impact the projects have had on their lives.
In a city like Inverness, which is used to music and to the sight of the Army on the streets, the appearance of Coventry City Band at the open-air meeting, together with the General and Commissioner Cox, provided a talking point on a busy Sunday lunchtime. In the open space of Falcon Square the impact of the Army’s presence brought shoppers to a standstill.
The children and young people of the division provided some of the more memorable moments of the congress: in a question time section of the meeting, McKenna from Inverness Corps asked the General what his favourite pudding was! And the action singing of ‘The Way It’s Going to Be’, which brought the whole congregation to its feet, suggested that the future of The Salvation Army in north Scotland is very bright indeed.