London, England—There was an authentic sense of joy and warm comradeship at The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters (IHQ) in London, UK, when the Army’s new world leader, General Linda Bond, was welcomed on Monday, 4 April.
This holy joy was evident right from the effervescent opening, led by Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women’s Ministries), to the thoughtful benediction by Commissioner William Cochrane (International Secretary to the Chief of the Staff). It came through the prayers, the Scripture reading (Psalm 134), the welcome talks, the music and through General Bond’s words.
In her first message as world leader the General positively emphasized the blessing of God, living totally for Jesus, thankfulness, the importance of serving others, Christian accountability regarding behavior, wise use of authority and the value of teamwork.
As she spoke to IHQ officers, staff and invited guests, Canadian-born General Bond revealed that her mother was English and ‘when I was previously appointed to IHQ in 1995 as under-secretary for personnel it felt like coming home. It is no different now.’
The General said she counts it a blessing to serve God at IHQ. ‘In fact, everyone who serves at IHQ is blessed because we have the mission of serving the world. Everyone here makes a difference to the worldwide Salvation Army.
‘It is vital that we serve the world with gratitude and attitude. We need to be grateful and thankful to God for his blessings. We also need to serve with a caring attitude because it is the love of God that compels us.’
Regarding her new position General Bond said she holds it with respect and dignity but she holds it lightly because ‘the power the Lord has given me as General is delegated authority. It is a power for people – not power over people.’
‘I live for Jesus and all the praise, power and glory belong to him.’
Earlier in the meeting Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, the Chief of the Staff, presented the General with the framed Certificate of Election that had been signed by all members of the 2011 High Council that elected General Bond.
Commissioner Swanson said that the High Council is an exercise in law and grace. ‘There are many legal requirements regarding the election of the General but, more importantly, God’s grace is at work in all members of the High Council, especially in the life of the one elected.’
In her words of welcome on behalf of IHQ officer staff Captain Emerald Urbien (International Auditor) said that General Bond comes at a time of turmoil for the world. ‘People are confused and hurting, souls are lost – the need is great. However, we know God is still in control.’ She drew parallels from the Old Testament book of Esther and stated that General Bond has been elected ‘for such a time as this.’
Captain Urbien assured the General that she had the support of IHQ officers in moving the Army forward.
Mark Read (Researcher IHQ Program Resources) welcomed the General on behalf of IHQ employees and stated: ‘There is already a heartfelt respect and love for you.’ In researching his talk Mark asked a friend at one of the General’s previous appointments to describe her, the response was: ‘A woman who sincerely and deeply loves Jesus.’
‘General, at IHQ we have a shared mission to serve Jesus that transcends roles. We will all do our part to support and serve you,’ Mark added.
Other participants in the meeting were Commissioner Gillian Bosh (Americas and Caribbean Zonal Secretary for Women’s Ministries) who prayed, Major Lorraine Hart (Private Secretary to the General) who read from the Scripture, an IHQ vocal group that sang ‘At Thy Command’ and an ensemble from the International Staff Band that played ‘Mighty to Save.’
Retired General John Larsson, Commissioners Freda Larsson and Gisèle Gowans and United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland territorial leaders Commissioners John and Betty Matear were among the invited guests for this occasion.
Prior to the welcome meeting the General had been greeted by all the IHQ-based Commissioners at the entrance to her office, having been accompanied into IHQ from Queen Victoria Street by the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson.
Photos from the welcome meeting are available here: http://bit.ly/fM3UDh