As the New York Staff Band played fanfare, flagbearers waving the standards of many nations marched up and down the aisles of the Old Orchard Beach Pavilion. Then Commissioner Lawrence R. Moretz, territorial commander, announced the entrance of each of the five retired worldwide leaders of The Salvation Army.
As each General entered, four with spouses, the congregation stood and offered sustained applause. Young girls presented bouquets of flowers to each woman leader. During the first chorus, Moretz asked everyone to be seated so photographers could have a chance to capture an unprecedented opportunity on film.
“This is a historic moment in the life of this territory and the Salvation Army world,” he said to open the Friday, July 27, Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings. “It has never before happened, and perhaps it never will again.”
Standing before the congregation were General Eva Burrows (1986–1993), General and Mrs. General Bramwell (Maude) Tillsley (1993–1994), General Paul A. and Commissioner Kay F. Rader (1994–1999), General John and Commissoner Gisèle Gowans (1999–2002), and General John and Commissioner Freda Larsson (2002–2006).
It was the beginning of “A Week with the Generals,” which Moretz said would be guided by the theme verse, Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith.”
Moretz pointed out that in the “ready room” before coming onstage, the retired worldwide leaders had been singing along to “Send the Fire” with the Eastern Territorial Songsters. They were ready for the Holy Spirit to take control of the Camp Meetings.
The territorial commander then called to the stage all the workers for the Pier Ministry, and Commissioner Nancy A. Moretz, territorial president of Women’s Ministries, offered a prayer of commission over the evangelists, 40 strong, who would preach the Gospel and pray with beachgoers.
General Burrows, who hails from Australia and is now serving as a soldier in a “614” corps in Melbourne, said that when she “was talking to the Lord” about what she should say, “He said to me … Why don’t you talk about God?”
She said that while the world seems to be preoccupied with directing us to improve our self–image, “The most important thing in life is knowing not about yourself but about God.”
She spoke of “our incomparable God” as a “God of love”—“Don’t take it for granted!”—“a holy Lord,” and “a God of faithfulness.”
The General said that people are often “too busy looking out for ‘God projects’; we want to look for God instead.”
As she ended her message and opened the altar, it quickly filled with seekers, and the General, as has always been typical, made her way to the Mercy Seat to pray with them.