More than 12,000 Salvationists – many of them travelling from the international congress venue at The O2 – poured onto the streets of central London on Sunday 5 July, the final day of Boundless – The Whole World Redeeming.
More than 2,500 participants – between them representing each of the 126 countries which have Salvation Army ministry – marched from Horse Guards Parade down The Mall, towards Buckingham Palace to take the salute from General André Cox, Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries), the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William Roberts) and Commissioner Nancy Roberts (World Secretary for Women's Ministries). From there they headed to to Constitution Hill, with the international leaders also marching from the event. The streets were lined with an additional 10,000 Salvationists, friends and members of the public cheering on the celebration.
Organised by Paul Gunnell, Assistant Events Manager for the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, the 45-minute march was led off by an International Headquarters (IHQ) contingent fronted by Commissioner William Cochrane (International Secretary to the Chief of the Staff).
Seven bands took part – the International Staff Band (ISB), Angola National Band, New York Staff Band, Chicago Staff Band, South America East Territorial Band, the Melbourne Staff Band and Regent Hall Band – as well as timbrelists, soldiers, adherent members and congress staff and volunteers.
‘In 1865, The Salvation Army was born on the streets of London,’ the General said. ‘It is entirely appropriate, then, that we should return to those streets to conclude our 150th anniversary celebrations. We have had a wonderful week of fellowship and worship at The O2 but now – as is our tradition – we want to share our joy and faith outside our own walls.’
Hundreds of people around the world were able to observe the march via a live webstream from IHQ's Periscope account (sar.my/periscope).
The Army has an extensive history of marching on the streets of London. Its members have marched during previous international congresses – including in 1978 and 1990 – as well as in 2011 for the ISB’s 120th anniversary celebration.
Major Carol Horton from Australia was among those cheering on the festivities. ‘It’s always really exciting to see,’ she said. ‘It reminds you of how vast the Army is.’
Lieutenant Hean Suk Choi, South Korea native and corps officer in the United Kingdom, likened the march to an open-air meeting. ‘It’s our unique expression to the public to share with everyone the culture of The Salvation Army,’ she said.
Her husband, Lieutenant Kook Hwan Rho, added, ‘We have been given an opportunity to meet Salvationists from 126 countries, but we feel like there are no strangers. Everyone immediately felt like brothers and sisters.’
Major Russell Czajkowski, San Antonio (Texas) Area Commander from USA Southern Territory, said he was very impressed by the congress’s offerings, particularly Session 7. ‘The General’s message to submit ourselves was very inspirational,’ he said. ‘That was my favourite part of Boundless.’
Lieut-Colonel Seth Appeateng (Officer Commanding, Rwanda and Burundi Command) said, ‘Everything about the congress was fantastic. My spirit was moved. Now I’m going to call my people to go out onto the streets and share Jesus Christ.’
The General concluded: ‘The march marks the end of the anniversary celebrations but it is also a start – a launching point as members of God's Army return to their homes and neighbourhoods across the world, ready to continue serving God and mankind.'