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Salvation Army officially recognised as a church in Republic of Georgia

Salvation Army officially recognised as a church in Republic of Georgia

Salvation Army officially recognised as a church in Republic of Georgia

Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham chatting with Captain Beso Nebieridze at the Family Fun Day. Photos by Captain Levan Kvernadze

IHQ report

The first overseas visit of The Salvation Army’s new Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham, and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries) was to the Republic of Georgia, to celebrate 25 years of Salvation Army ministry in the country.

Commissioners Buckingham and territorial leaders receiving a Georgian welcome.

During the weekend, The Salvation Army in Georgia received its official national certification as a church.

Georgia is part of the Eastern Europe Territory (EET). Australian officers, Lieutenant-Colonels Kelvin and Cheralynne Pethybridge, Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the EET, also attended the anniversary in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi.

Celebrations commenced with an exciting Family Fun Day in Tbilisi’s Peace Park on Friday, where music, face-painting, stalls selling handicrafts, and games were on offer.

The visible presence and various activities attracted hundreds of people, many of whom were encountering The Salvation Army for the first time. A stall explaining The Salvation Army’s work to counter human trafficking aroused interest and people were keen to write messages of support on a wooden cut-out representing a trafficked person.

First open-air meeting


On the Saturday afternoon, the first Salvation Army open-air meeting in the city centre incorporated music and a clear gospel message.

The Georgian marching band drum corps in the open-air meeting.

The Georgian national marching band provided a drum corps, which was enjoyed by large crowds. Timbrellists from Megobroba and Rustavi corps in the capital’s suburbs delighted the people. The sight of in excess of 100 uniformed Salvationists walking through the city centre was an amazing witness.

That evening, a celebration took place at the Radisson Hotel. For the first time, ministers and pastors from other Georgian churches came to share in the fellowship and bring greetings from their own denominations. The event was covered on local television news, bringing a Salvation Army presence to an even larger audience.

During the meeting, a newly formed Salvation Army gospel choir – comprising 30 young people from the Tbilisi area – presented two lively and enthusiastic songs.

For a quarter of a century, regional leaders in Georgia have worked hard to have The Salvation Army officially recognised as a church. It was fitting during this celebration weekend that Shota Tutberidze, senior lawyer at Patronees Legal, was able to present the long-awaited certification from the national authorities. The company has provided The Salvation Army with its time and expertise free of charge.

A video presentation about the work of The Salvation Army in Georgia, produced by The Salvation Army International Headquarters Communications team, was also shown. Representing the diversity of work across the nation, images from each corps were incorporated – illustrating how human needs are being met in authentic and practical ways.

The Chief of the Staff encouraged the congregation to “use all opportunities to tell people about God’s love and to celebrate belonging to the family of God”.

Sunday’s worship was held at Tbilisi Central Corps, where the Chief of the Staff enrolled eight junior soldiers. Members of Ponichala Corps led a creative time of prayer, using art to depict the face, hands and feet of Jesus. Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham gave a moving testimony about the challenge of her calling.

Sacred offering

In his Bible message, the Chief of the Staff reminded everyone that just as four friends brought their lame companion to Jesus, lowering him through the roof (Mark 2:1–5), we too have to bring people to Jesus for healing.

The newly formed Georgian Gospel Choir.

A celebration cake was presented to the congregation with the help of the oldest Salvationist in Georgia. Meanwhile, for younger participants, a pizza and praise party concluded the weekend, where they also had an opportunity to ask the commissioners questions about their life and ministry.

Reflecting on the weekend celebrations, regional leader in Georgia, Major Carelle Begley, commented: “The Salvation Army in Georgia is on fire for God and looking forward to serving him further.”

 

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