Our world leader to speak at Ireland divisional congress - Great Welcome planned in Belfast

published on 3 Mar 2015

The head of The Salvation Army globally will touch down in Belfast this week to celebrate the biggest ever gathering of Salvationists in its Ireland division (which covers Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).

General André Cox, who is the world leader of our 1.5 million-strong church and charity as we celebrate 135 years of work in Ireland division, will be the guest speaker at The Salvation Army’s congress in Belfast from Friday March 6 to Sunday March 8. Around 700 Salvationists and supporters of the organisation are set to gather in the city.

Major Elwyn Harries, leader of The Salvation Army’s Ireland division, said: “We’re excited to be able to have our congress in this great city of Belfast. It’s a special time for Salvationists, which will be made extra special by the visit of General Cox.

“We pray that God will guide and bless us as we continue to make connections with the local community and that there may be many opportunities to speak about what God is doing in our lives and how He can make an impact on theirs.”

Our Ireland division work began in Belfast in 1880 when founder William Booth appointed Major Caroline Reynolds to establish the work. On May 3 of that year, she and four other female officers – Captains Phoebe Strong, Elizabeth Spencer, Mary Ann Marshall and Polly Flinn – were commissioned and the next day set sail for Belfast before landing in the city on May 7, 1880.

The first Salvation Army church (corps) in Ireland Division was Belfast Citadel (Dublin Road), which was opened on March 3, 1881. The Salvation Army’s first church in the Republic of Ireland was opened in 1888 at Rathmines in Dublin.

We now have 19 churches and seven social centres in Ireland division which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged people through a range of initiatives. These include the Christmas Family Appeal, Bangor Befriending Service, Newry Knights and the children’s brass band at Belfast Citadel Corps.

General Cox said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit Belfast for the congress weekend. Our twin themes of 'reaching up' and 'reaching out' beautifully capture Jesus' greatest commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and all our mind, and to love our neighbour as yourself.

“In gathering together in worship we want to receive from, and respond to, the Lord so that when returning to our homes, our schools, and our workplaces we can better serve our neighbour in Jesus' name."

The congress gets underway with an Adult and Family Ministries rally at Belfast Temple Corps (Cregagh Road) on Friday March 6, followed by a Youth event at Belfast Sydenham Corps. An outreach event will take place at the Victoria Square shopping centre the following day.

‘Ireland Division Celebrates’ on the evening of Saturday March 7 at the Spires Conference and Exhibition Centre. The themes of this event are ‘Reaching Up’ and ‘Reaching Out’ and will look at how the work of The Salvation Army began in Ireland 135 years ago. There will also be a screening of a short film featuring various aspects of our work.

On Sunday March 8, the General will lead a morning worship service at the Spires, followed by a March of Witness through the city centre in the afternoon.

The final celebration will take place in the Spires following the March of Witness.