One moment in time
One moment in time
9 November 2018
Thousands of Salvationists and supporters will converge on Melbourne later this month for what has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
The drawcard is Still Others, a six-day national conference that will have as its centrepiece the official Recognition of The Salvation Army Australia Territory.
On the Still Others website, salvos.org.au/stillothers, the event is promoted as “a week of vision, equipping and celebration of the new Salvation Army in Australia”.
Other major events at the conference, which will run from 27 November to 3 December at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, are the commissioning of new Salvation Army officers, the “Our Christmas Gift” concert spectacular, a Salvo Expo, mission workshops, and youth and family-focused celebrations.
Among the special guests are the new world leaders of The Salvation Army, General Brian and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, supported by other senior officers from International Headquarters in London.
Australian officers and employees currently serving in overseas postings will also be coming home to join in the celebration. Still Others is, however, first and foremost an opportunity for Salvationists from around the country to gather as one and, as National Commander Commissioner Floyd Tidd says, “celebrate the new thing that God is doing in The Salvation Army in Australia”.
And while the logistics of cost and distance in such a vast country as Australia will, understandably, impact on just how many Salvationists will be able to make the journey to Melbourne, there are many for whom this is a moment in time not to be missed.
Others, which will bring daily reports from the event, has spoken to a handful of these people to find out what being at Still Others means to them ...
Maree Maunder (pictured right) will make a 7500km round trip in order be at Still Others. The 65-year-old lives in Geraldton, Western Australia, but from the moment she heard about Still Others there was no doubt in her mind that she would be making the long journey to Melbourne to share in the celebration.
“I just love going to congresses, both in Perth and other places,” says Maree, who is a senior soldier and Home League Secretary at Geraldton Corps. “Doesn’t everyone just want to be there? It’s harder for us country people because of the travelling involved and finding somewhere to stay, but I wouldn’t miss going to them.”
Maree was also at the Boundless international congress, held to mark the 150th anniversary of The Salvation Army, in London three years ago. “It took me three years to save enough money to go, but it was just awesome,” she says. “Everyone who was there wanted to be there and had made such a big effort to get there – it made the atmosphere just amazing.
“I loved the band music and mix of old and new songs, the speakers were excellent, the testimonies were inspiring and through the prayer time I could just feel the Holy Spirit moving. This is what I am hoping for from Still Others too. I am hoping to experience the moving of the Holy Spirit, hear different points of view, be moved by the singing and catch up with old friends and past officers.
“I also want to learn all about Australia becoming one territory and what the plans are, become informed, and I hope to do some electives as well. I will make sure that I am at everything!” Maree isn’t the only Salvationist prepared to travel a long distance to be at Still Others. Bob and Yon Down will be coming from Townsville in North Queensland, a round trip of approximately 5000km.
Bob, who has been a chaplain for The Salvation Army for 35 years, was invited to be a part of the “Caring for Others” panel at Still Others, and his wife has taken the opportunity to join him in Melbourne. “Yon and I decided that this was too good an opportunity to miss so we are both going and will attend as many events as possible while we’re there,” he says. “We’ve never been to a big Salvation Army event before and we’re looking forward to catching up with old friends, sharing ideas with fellow prison chaplains, and making new friends. We’re quite isolated up here so to have this opportunity is very special.”
Yon is also excited about being part of Still Others. “We are a bit remote up here and miss out on events like these, so to see and participate in The Salvation Army on such a big scale and to interact with other Salvos will be lovely and such a different experience for us. I’m also really looking forward to hearing the guest speakers.
“It will also be nice to hear Bob and to keep an eye on him. He’s quite the character at 80 years old!”
Further south, at Bayside Corps in Brisbane, a group has got together to make sure their corps leaders, Cadets Natalie and Scott Frame, and Cadets Ashley and Rita Biermann, who entered training from Bayside, will be well supported when they are commissioned as Salvation Army officers on the Sunday morning of Still Others.
More than a dozen people from the corps will be making the journey to Melbourne, among them Brett Petersons who has been involved with Bayside for the past three years. “I’m looking forward to getting to know more about the Salvos and hanging out with like-minded people,” he says.
“I’m also going to support Scott and Natalie, who are being commissioned. Natalie in particular has supported me through a lot in my journey and has been like a spiritual mother to me.”
Majors Bruce and Jean Buckmaster retired from active service as officers a decade ago and for most of that time have made Bayside their church home. “We’re going to Still Others mainly to support the Frames and Biermanns but will also be going to everything else,” says Jean.
“Despite the challenges of travel for us, we are really enthusiastic about going.” Bruce, who is now confined to a wheelchair, is especially interested in learning more about the new Australia Territory.
“I want to hear more on what it’s all about, and what Australia is becoming,” he says. Bass Strait, the 250km-wide stretch of water that separates Tasmania from the Australian mainland, is no barrier to a dedicated group of friends being at Still Others. Every year, the five Salvationists, drawn from Launceston, Devonport and the Kingborough/Huon corps, get together for a girls’ weekend away.
They usually attend Commissioning, and this year are excited to make Still Others their destination. “We have been going to Commissioning and the Christmas Gift celebration quite regularly over a number of years, and this year with the amalgamation of the two territories I feel it will be something special,” says Kath Geeves from Launceston Salvation Army.
“I love catching up with friends, sharing in fellowship, worshipping with like-minded people and on such a large scale. It’s not something we get very often in Tasmania!” Joining Kath are Ronda Lucas and Debbie O’Brien (both Launceston), Rae Howard (Kingborough/Huon Corps), and Marie O’Brien (Devonport).
“I got to know Kath when she invited me to Ladies Fellowship about 30-odd years ago,” says Ronda. “From there I started to go to the corps.” Rae says she is excited about attending Still Others to receive “fresh inspiration to work for the Lord in the small corps I attend”. Debbie, meantime, is looking forward to “meeting up with old friends and making new ones”.
The ladies are all staying together in a unit and will attend most events. Marie says she is particularly looking forward to the “Coffee with the General” event. “I’m not planning on asking a question, but if I did, it would be, ‘Why didn’t this happen 20 years ago?’”
Each of the women say the creation of an Australia Territory is an exciting step forward. “We are one Army with one mission!” says Kath.
Among the crowds at Still Others will be two new Salvationists, from Wollongong on the NSW South Coast. Lyn and John Walker (pictured right) have been Salvation Army soldiers for only a handful of months, but the couple say Still Others is an event not to be missed.
“Being new to The Salvation Army we are keen to see where we are heading and experience the joy of moving into the Australia Territory,” says Lyn. They are both excited to “experience a large company of Salvationists coming together in worship, prayer, praise and thanksgiving”. Lyn and John started attending The Salvation Army two years ago and became soldiers in May this year. They had spent the past few decades in leadership roles in the Uniting Church, however felt God calling them to something new.
“We have been on a very exciting journey since we joined the Army and want to continue that journey informed and to serve our Lord in whatever he calls us to,” says Lyn. “Even though we are older members by age, we are very open to God’s leading.”
They are hoping Still Others will give them a greater understanding of where The Salvation Army is headed and want to “come home empowered and ready to embrace new ministries”.
Another group of Walkers – not related to Lyn and John – will also be making the trip from Wollongong to Melbourne later this month, and are excited about attending Still Others as a family. “We have always attended Commissioning and congress events and it was just a natural thing for our family to attend this important event,” says Lachlan Walker, who will be going with his wife Karen and their children, Sarah, Kyle and Jordyn.
Lachlan says that being in Melbourne to witness the “rebirth” of The Salvation Army in Australia, as the two territories come together as one, will be a powerful experience. His niece, Chloe Hutchinson, as well as Karen’s parents, Don and Cheryl Johnson, are also planning to fly to Melbourne with them to attend the historic event.