The congregation at Woodford Corps (church), in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, welcomed the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William Roberts) and Commissioner Nancy Roberts (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries) to lead Sunday meetings including the Self-Denial altar service. The Deputy Mayor of Redbridge (Councillor Linda Huggett) and her consort Brian Huggett supported throughout.
The commissioners led with warmth and sincerity as they shared information about the worldwide Salvation Army. Introducing the altar service, the Chief spoke about the origins of Self-Denial, including Major John Carleton’s offer to give up pudding to raise funds. He pointed out how that same spirit of giving still happens today as Salvationists around the world contribute £20 million through personal gifts at Self-Denial or similar altar services. Some powerful and reflective moments followed when Major Katherine Foreman sang the verses of ‘The World for God’, with the congregation joining in the refrain: ‘The world for God ... I give my heart, I will do my part.’
Calling on his experience of leadership in Kenya, the Chief referred to Salvationists from that country who, despite being materially poor, give sacrificially from the little they have. He spoke about Jesus’ comments about giving to Caesar and giving to God, asking the congregation: ‘Whose image do you carry?’ The words of the song ‘O to be like thee … stamp thine own image deep on my heart' were given fresh emphasis when sung to a Kenyan tune.
Commissioner Nancy Roberts testified to the love of God that she has experienced all her life. Referring to Psalm 27, she thanked God for holding her close to him.
One highlight of the day was the enrolment by the Chief of two adherent members.
Following fellowship over lunch at the hall, the afternoon meeting celebrated Bandmaster Ken Stubley’s 60 years’ service as a bandsman. Commissioner Nancy Roberts read a letter from General John Larsson (Retired), who had once served in an appointment with Ken. The Chief presented Ken with a long-service award, saying: ‘Only eternity will reveal those who have been influenced for God by your service as a bandsman.’ The band, supplemented by visitors, contributed ‘The Well is Deep’.
The commissioners spoke about their ministry serving in South America and Kenya. The Chief also shared his experience of visiting China where, although the Army is not officially recognised as a church, there is a significant ministry. Using the example of the widow’s offering, as recorded in Mark’s Gospel, the visitors spoke again about the sacrificial giving of Kenyan Salvationists.
A day of inspiring worship in east London concluded in song with the words: ‘Christ for the whole wide world’.