140 Years of Salvation Army Ministry in South Africa

"The Southern Africa Territory celebrates and gives glory, honor and praise to God for the great work accomplished during the visit of the General and World President of Women’s Ministries." by Major Leanne Browski
The General with the deputy major of Msunduzi Municipality

International leaders General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham received a heartfelt welcome, including joyful music and dance, from Salvationists on their visit to the Southern Africa Territory in September 2023, celebrating the 140th anniversary of the commencement of Salvation Army ministry.

During their visit the General and Commissioner Buckingham held meaningful dialogue with ecumenical and government leaders, including the KwaZulu-Natal Council of Churches and the mayors of the Msunduzi and eThekwini Municipalities. Prayer and inspirational words from Scripture were central. The Salvation Army’s commitment to collaboration was highlighted, emphasizing the importance of aligning with God’s purpose and dedicating efforts to serve communities.

The presence of the international leaders enriched the centenary celebrations at the Joseph Baynes House Child and Youth Care Center, shedding light on 100 years of nurturing more than 1,500 vulnerable children. A torch-lighting ceremony later in the day saw divisional leaders and other Salvationists gathered in Albert Park, Durban, echoing the historic arrival of the first officers in South Africa 140 years ago. A territorial torch, ignited by the divisional leaders, was officially inaugurated by the General, commencing the 140th-anniversary congress and symbolizing a deep longing for more of God’s divine power.

Divisional leaders and other Salvationists gather for a torch-lighting ceremony in Albert Park, Durban

At the evening soldiers’ rally the General encouraged Salvationists to embrace faith and expectancy, and to be receptive to God, urging his listeners to offer a resounding “Yes, Lord!” when God calls. Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham highlighted soldiers as the strength of the Army and the potential for global transformation when Kingdom standards are upheld. The program featured a musical production exploring The Salvation Army’s history in Southern Africa.

In his address, the General emphasized the urgency of preparing for a fresh moving of God, saying, “It is incredibly important that we do whatever we need to, to be ready for a new movement of God among us.” The Holy Spirit’s presence was seen as Salvationists bowed both hearts and knees in response.

The second day of the congress opened with engagement in mission as Salvationists participated in street ministry and feeding programs, spreading hope to communities in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. As the day progressed, family service sessions brought people together for times of celebration, prayer on social justice issues and a question-and-answer time with the General and Commissioner Buckingham.

The international leaders take part in street ministry

Throughout the celebration, diverse musical offerings from each division and the Territorial Ladies’ Band brought great blessing. Memorable moments of the day included the unveiling of the Territorial Strategic Plan by Territorial Commander Commissioner Torben Eliasen. The General’s thought-provoking question — “What’s on the other side of your ‘yes’?” — left an impact as the evening closed.

The last day of the congress commenced with a joyful march of witness before the final meeting was marked by surrender in response to the call to trust God and embrace obedience. It was clear that the congress had been a profound time of spiritual renewal and deepened commitment to being who God wants His people to be, and doing what God wants His people to do. Salvationists departed with hearts devoted, dedication reaffirmed and the resounding declaration of “Heavenly Father, count me in!” etched in their hearts and spoken from their lips.

Concluding the visit of the General and Commissioner Buckingham, territorial officers’ councils inspired officers to be “refreshers of hearts,” sharing the leadership qualities required to advance The Salvation Army.

The Southern Africa Territory celebrates and gives glory, honor and praise to God for the great work accomplished during the visit of the General and World President of Women’s Ministries. 

Report prepared by Major Leanne Browski, Southern Africa.

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