Walking Across the Floor: International Headquarters welcomes General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham
On Monday 7 August 2023, Salvation Army officers and employees welcomed General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World President of Women’s Ministries) to International Headquarters (IHQ, London) with rapturous applause.
Flag-bearers escorted the new international leaders into the building, accompanied by the IHQ Staff Band playing ‘We have a gospel’.
As members of the public stopped outside to enjoy the historic occasion, hand-in-hand, the General and Commissioner Bronwyn were welcomed by Chief Secretary Colonel Peter Forrest, who also greeted delegates from the International College for Officers. He said, ‘General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, following the High Council in May, we believe the world leapt for joy! The 22nd General of The Salvation Army is now on duty.’
The congregation sang ‘Lord, I come before your throne of grace’ before Commissioner Jane Paone brought everyone together in prayer. She said, ‘Loving heavenly Father, you are our faithful God in whom we place our trust completely. We pray for our new international leaders as they take on their new responsibilities. They are yours, dedicated to your service. We believe you will grant them wisdom, understanding and compassionate hearts as they lead the international Salvation Army.’
Following the Lord’s Prayer, Colonel Peter Forrest spoke warmly to the new leaders, describing the conductor and first violinist at a recent musical event he had attended. He said, ‘I see IHQ under new leadership and our own leaders of the orchestra, Commissioner Bronwyn and our new General – General Lyndon Buckingham.’ Likening different IHQ departments to the sections of an orchestra, Colonel Forrest continued, ‘I asked myself, “what is our music?” and was reminded that we support the General as he leads The Salvation Army in accomplishing its God-given mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting human needs in his name without discrimination. General you can count on us. God bless you.’
The IHQ Staff Band played ‘Still’ before Leonora Ledgister spoke on behalf of IHQ employees. She said, ‘General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, on behalf of the IHQ employees, welcome! We celebrate the excitement you feel stepping into these new roles with many opportunities before you. We recognise the privilege and responsibility of leading this vast Army. We are confident that you are aware of the times we are living in and sensitive to God’s Spirit. And we acknowledge the enormity of the task and the huge and daunting challenges. But you are not alone… we offer you our best… commit to uphold you in prayer and with words of affirmation and encouragement. May God give you richly of his Spirit, wisdom, insight, understanding, grace, courage and strength. Welcome home and abundant blessings to you both.’
Commissioner Keith Conrad (International Secretary, Africa zone) offered a prayer of dedication. Recognising the process of the High Council and the election of new international leaders, he said, ‘Lord, here are your servants, General Lyndon and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, who we lift to you in prayer and dedication for the task you have entrusted to them… as they take up this mantle of being the Army’s international leaders, may the sweet anointing of your Holy Spirit rest upon them, giving them guidance and direction as they lead your Army in your mission to bring the world to Jesus.’
For Such A Time As This
Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham responded to the tributes and prayers saying, ‘This momentous shift has profound implications for me. There is a huge blessing in the familiarity and stability [of IHQ] for me. We are 18,336 kilometres (11,393 miles) away from our family in New Zealand and we could not be much further away from our blood family. There are days when it is hard to be this far away, but you bring richness to our lives. This place and its people have become family and I am so glad to be a part of it. For such a time as this we share life and our mission together – thank you. Deep in my heart the truth of Jesus sits firmly without wavering. He began good work in me and he will continue this until completion. Thank you for being my safe place to return to. May God bless us and bring us together at International Headquarters.’
To Serve God Wholeheartedly
Warm applause followed before session 254 of the International College for Officers sang ‘Bless our Army’ as a precursor to General Lyndon Buckingham addressing the meeting. The new General thanked everyone for their support for him in his appointment. He said, ‘I am not naïve about the challenges and opportunities that face the Army today. We are supposed to embrace the opportunity to bring salt and flavour to the world. Bring on the challenges because they create opportunities for us!’
He spoke about Caleb’s role described in the Bible, explaining that he would like to be 85 years old, like Caleb, and still filled with the same zeal for God as he has now. He asked, ‘Can you imagine a global movement whose response is to serve God wholeheartedly? What a blessing! I want to testify to you this morning that I give myself wholeheartedly to the mission of The Salvation Army. We give ourselves to a big God and serve him without reservation. Let’s find that sweet spot of peace, purpose and power. May it be so for the glory of God and the extension of his Kingdom. God bless you.’
Following warm applause, the congregation sang ‘He is the Lord, and he reigns on high’ before Colonel Peter Forrest closed the meeting with the benediction and grace. He said, ‘May the child of God grow in you and his love bring you home.’