Sweden – The Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) comes from Chicago, USA, but he clearly felt at home when he and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President, Women’s Ministries) led congress meetings in Sweden. This was the Swansons’ third visit to the Sweden and Latvia Territory but the Chief demonstrated deeper links when, during the opening meeting, he revealed that his grandparents had been born in Sweden. He even told the congregation the names of the Swedish towns and villages where his ancestors had been born. The foundation of double unity, in Spirit and in ancestry, was laid.
Later in the meeting – following the Chief’s Bible message – many people responded to the opportunity to pray at the mercy seat as Riga Staff Songsters sang.
Commissioner Sue Swanson gave an encouraging Bible message at the evening praise and worship meeting.
On Saturday afternoon the public received the gospel and uplifting music at an open-air meeting in Stockholm’s Vasa Park. The Chief and Commissioner Sue Swanson then led the march to Immanuel Church where the congress was held.
The focus of the afternoon meeting was the commissioning and ordination of two Salvation Army officers. Territorial Commander Commissioner Marie Willermark led the commissioning, with the Chief bringing a Bible message to which people again willingly responded.
The visiting leaders had the opportunity to enjoy God-honoring music during the Saturday evening festival. This time of sharing included vocal, brass and piano solos.
The two Sunday meetings featured encouraging and challenging testimonies. Sarah Ilsters, leader of Riga 1 Corps in Latvia, shared her understanding of responding daily to God’s calling. Cadet Marie Blomberg testified about her experience of planting a corps.
In the final meeting Candidate Nicolaj Vollburg described how God had guided him – and his family – to The Salvation Army and then to preach God’s message of salvation as an officer. Corps leader Sofia Wastesson, a professor of French literature, shared how she responded to the opportunity of taking part-time responsibility for her home corps. She expressed how she feels fulfilled both intellectually and spiritually in being who she is for God.
Commissioner Sue Swanson gave the final Bible message. The challenge and encouragement were clear – go and share God’s hope and comfort with people who are lost.
God poured his encouragement, joy and holiness over Salvationists and friends of all ages who took part in the congress.
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Report by Commissioner Marie Willermark