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Officer installation bordering on a world first

Officer installation bordering on a world first

Officer installation bordering on a world first

16 September 2021

New Tweeds Heads Palm Beach/Elanora Corps Officers Majors John and Nicole Viles (left) and Queensland Division Area Officers (Brisbane South, West, Gold Coast and Darling Downs) Majors David and Michele Terracini after the unique installation ceremony at the NSW-Queensland border.

By Darryl Whitecross

Nowhere else in Australia – or anywhere in the world for that matter – has the installation of new corps officers happened in quite the same way.

People in the vicinity of the New South Wales-Queensland border monument at Tweed Heads over the weekend would have been forgiven for looking puzzled as four Salvation Army officers gathered for an official ceremony.

The occasion was the installation of Tweed Heads Palm Beach/Elanora Corps Officers Majors John and Nicole Viles, who stood on the NSW side. Two metres away on the Queensland side were Majors David and Michele Terracini, Queensland Division Area Officers, who performed the official duties.

The open-air installation, in itself a rare occasion, became the only option at the time due to COVID-19 restrictions on cross-border travel between NSW and Queensland.

As people went about their morning business, shopping and going to and from the beach, the Terracinis charged the Viles with the responsibilities of their new appointment. John and Nicole raised their right hands in affirmation and said the obligatory “I do”.

John and Nicole said they did not want to waste time waiting for a time for a traditional installation but wanted to “get on with what we’re about”, referring to the territorial vision of transforming Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus.

Nicole said the ceremony was also a witness to a community struggling with the effects of the border closure as part of moves to halt the spread of COVID-19 into Queensland. “We’re a part of your community. We feel your pain. We acknowledge what’s going on,” she said, adding that the border restrictions were “a big social justice issue” in the community.

“A lot of people’s livelihoods and lives have been affected,” she said. “We have people who’ve lost their jobs because they can’t get to their jobs. We want to be honouring of that and respectful of that.”

Tweed Heads Palm Beach/Elanora Corps is part of the Queensland Division Brisbane South, West, Gold Coast and Darling Downs area, but the worship centre and quarters are at Banora Point in NSW. The Palm Beach and Elanora part of the appointment is in Queensland.

As it would happen, the installation was pre-recorded on Friday 10 September and played as part of a worship service aired on Sunday 12 September, and the ‘border bubble’ was lifted on Monday 13 September, which allowed the Viles into Queensland for the first time since their appointment was announced.

The Viles’ previous appointments were in Sydney, where John was one of the corps officers at Inner West Corps, and Nicole was the manager at the Army’s Stanmore House training, conference, events and accommodation centre. 




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