Preaching, playing, marching!
On Sunday morning, Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander, welcomed people back to the Seaside Pavilion after having enjoyed a wonderful time there on Saturday.
Then he quickly focused on the meeting’s theme when he said, “the more we share in Christ’s suffering, the more we are able to give of His encouragement.” Those words came from 2 Corinthians 1:5, but they also echoed Romans 8:12–25.
Colonel Janet Munn came to the platform and dramatically recited that scripture. Her graceful and empathetic manner set a reflective tone for the meeting.
A revealing testimony
An Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) beneficiary made a deep impact on the audience as he shared how Christ transformed him.
Steven Goddard, father of three, had struggled with addiction since age 12. He had become a user of alcohol, and drugs. “I was suicidal and homicidal. My addictions were running my life,” he said.
Despite being the brother of a Salvation Army pastor, Goddard’s need to appear “competitive” in the world, led him to say, “I’d rather be in jail or dead than be with The Salvation Army.”
Eventually, Goddard encountered Salvationists who challenged him to take a second look at his life. “They genuinely wanted me to do well, unlike the competitive people who I had worked with,” he said.
“Now, my life is a blessing. But I’m not ready to go back to the life I was living. I love seeing the change in the men who are coming into the Portland ARC and giving them my support,” Goddard said.
A passionate message
The sermon preached by the Chief of the Staff (CoS) Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham lit a spiritual flame that burned in the hearts of many seekers who came to the mercy seat, fell to their knees, and prayed.
It was clear from the outset that the CoS had spent time with God in preparation for the sermon, which overflowed with enthusiasm. It was also clear that he expected his attitude to be contagious.
“Paul has so much to say in his letter to the Romans,” the CoS said while pacing the entire length and breadth of the platform. “He is saying that God is greater than anything you can imagine; He is awesome! Oh, come on!”
As the CoS spoke, his audience responded. “God demonstrated His love for us. He gave His life! He was resurrected to give us hope in the face of our struggle!”
Making waves for Jesus!
While their parents took part in the festivities in the Pavilion, about 75 children, ages 6 months to 9 years old, were having a blast in the nearby Tabernacle and Old Orchard Beach Corps. Majors Jason and Leslie Knaggs, the territorial youth secretaries, are running the children’s meetings. Major Leslie said the theme is “Make Waves.”
“We’re talking about God having a purpose for us—to be visible and a light out in the world,” she said. “Our purpose is to make waves for Jesus and set an example for the children and how we should live our lives.”
The children were enraptured on Sunday morning as the Creative Arts Service Team (CAST) performed “Oasis” for the 6–9 age group. The 40 or so children in that meeting also enjoyed Bible time, activity stations for coloring, bracelet–making, table games, and other fun; free time; and a lesson on John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
“It’s been great,” Knaggs said. “The kids have been fantastic. We have wonderful helpers. The kids are getting a good mix of the Bible message and how to take it out and live in the world. And, they’re having lots of fun.”
The Pier Ministry Festival continued Sunday night and featured the talents of several Salvation Army performers, including MOVE Dance Co., Eli Morgan Magic, and the contemporary worship band UNBOUND.
Olivia Renkel, a 27-year-old soldier at the Red Bank, N.J., Corps, and the arts director in the New Jersey Division, wowed the crowd by singing Disney tunes. While performing a song from “Frozen,” she was joined on stage by “Olaf.”
“I grew up performing and always loved doing it, and then when I was with CAST several years ago, I found this community that loved performing, but also loved doing it for the Lord,” Renkel told SACONNECTS between performances. “That’s why I love doing this.”
Renkel was with CAST for performances of “Honk” and “Moses.” Now, she teaches at the TAM Conservatory and throughout her division, but she especially loves performing.
“Dancing and singing are the best ways for me to connect with the Holy Spirit. I’m also able to share my passion for the Lord while dancing and singing with others,” she said.
“I love being able to empower students to not only hone their skills and their craft of dancing and singing, but to also do it for the Lord and to connect with God.”
A march with a message
On a warmer than usual Sunday, the New York Staff Band (NYSB) marched down Old Orchard Beach Avenue for the first time in two years. Locals and vendors stepped out of stores and restaurants when they heard the familiar music that carried a message of God’s love.
Upon arrival at the Pier, the NYSB greeted the audience with orchestral renditions of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” followed by Coldplay’s hit song “Sky Full Of Stars.”
“We have a God who desires to personally connect with our lives and share the direction in which we move, so that our full potential will be realized.” said Colonel Philip J. Maxwell, chief secretary, who spoke to the crowd from the stage. He then introduced the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters as “The Army’s choir.” They performed two songs: “I Will Rejoice” and “You’ve Got A friend.”
NYSB Bandmaster Derek Lance said that Old Orchard Beach is the band’s “home away from home.”
“We see a lot of people who we know from across the territory, but it’s good to engage with the Old Orchard Beach community,” said Lance.
Colonel Maxwell acknowledged that we had gone through a life–changing ordeal due to the pandemic, but God remained in control of His creation.
“Our world was shut down by COVID–19. We were called to test what is important to us,” said Colonel Maxwell. “The world has changed, but one thing that has stayed the same is that we have a God who has invested into this world, so that we may know His love and His promise of eternal life.
“Take this truth away with you; God knows you by your name, He loves you, He is interested in your life, and if you seek Him, I promise, you will find Him, and your life will be liberated as a result.”
A Q&A with the CoS and Commissioner Buckingham
On Sunday evening in the Pavilion, the Colonels Maxwell interviewed the CoS and Commissioner Buckingham and asked questions about their joys and challenges of officership. During the conversation, they discussed the war in Ukraine and the Salvation Army’s unique role.
“We are the only Army serving on both sides of the conflict,” said Colonel Deslea A. Maxwell. “Not so long ago, Russia used to be a part of the Eastern Europe Territory. So, a lot of soldiers and officers in Ukraine and in Russia know each other.”
The CoS called the Ukrainian Salvationists “heroes of the faith.” He continued, “The same is true for officers and soldiers living and working in Russia. Their ministries are quite difficult, and they need prayer.”
Beach and corps Bible studies to come
On Monday, camp meeting activities will continue with a Beach Bible study, led by Majors Brett and Jessica DeMichael, and a Corps Bible Study, led by Commissioners Mark W. and Sharon J. Tillsley.
The evening will feature “Family Night” with a variety of fun activities for everyone, starting at 5 p.m. The Pier Ministry Festival continues at 7 p.m.