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GENERAL Linda Bond was the special guest when Salvationists joined friends from other churches at the International Climbing Arena in Edinburgh for the 'Changing Minds'-themed Roots Scotland conference. A hallmark of the event was the number of people who made their way to the mercy seat to make a fresh commitment to God or to pray for their nation.
Roots conferences have been held in the UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland for more than a decade, but this was the first regional conference (to be followed by gatherings in Birmingham, Doncaster and London during the next year and a half).
Territorial Evangelism Secretary Major Drew McCombe welcomed the General who, to warm applause, told the hundreds of people present that her own roots were in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia - translated as 'New Scotland'.
The General gave powerful challenges to the crowds who had travelled to Edinburgh - some from as far away as The Netherlands. She encouraged a renewed belief in the power of the gospel and challenged Salvationists to 'proclaim the real Jesus to the people of Scotland'. Stressing the need to engage confidently in mission, she urged a revival of soul-saving as the Army's priority.
'We are called for the people nobody wants!' declared the General. 'Connecting people with Jesus - that's our roots!'
Commenting on statistics about an increased number of children being taken into care, the General stressed the need to reach out to children: 'Take them to the Army. Give them Jesus!'
Sessions were introduced by Territorial Children's and Youth Ministries Secretary Major Mark Sawyer and Captain Kerry Coke (Stepney), with pulsating music from Lou Fellingham and Phatfish. Times of intergenerational worship were supported by intercessors in the prayer venue, where prayer resources were provided by the 24-7 prayer network.
Mini presentations ran between the main sessions, outlining ways in which activities across the territory promote social justice. These were a source of inspiration to those looking to implement practical community ministry. Testimonies referred to work among marginalised people, with numerous ideas on offer. These presentations linked well with stands and stalls providing resources.
The theme of Social Justice prevailed in sessions led by Territorial Candidates Director Major Mark Herbert and Amanda Jackson, representing the THQ-based charity Micah Challenge whose aim is to encourage a Christian commitment to the poor. They emphasised the Christian responsibility for social action. Scotland Secretary Lieut-Colonel Alan Burns enthused about Mission Scotland, sharing news of developments and bringing a stirring message.
A rallying cry to mission was accompanied by a procession of flags and the Scottish flavour of a drumbeat.
The General spent part of her final morning at Roots visiting the children's programme, having visited the Youth Space the day before. In the children's programme she was introduced to the Junction 6:8 theme, representing the fact that the challenge of Micah 6:8 - 'To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' (New International Version) - can by viewed as a 'life junction' for decision-making.
Report by Major Stephen PoxonPhotos © Mark Jackson
For more information on the regional Roots conferences in the UK visit: www.roots-conference.co.uk
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