We’ve shared in some very special meetings at Bellshill recently, and today was no different – This morning during our worship service, we shared in the retirement service of Majors Chris and Lynda after 35 years of service as Salvation Army officers. Then this afternoon after a buffet lunch, we had a Celebration Praise meeting.
During their time as officers, Majors Chris and Lynda have been have had a number of appointments – Kilbirnie, Aberdeen, Irvine New Town, Kilmarnock, Govan, chaplains for Hope House, Clydebank and finally here at Bellshill. It was therefore no surprise that our hall was packed to capacity for both meetings as, as well as Majors Chris and Lynda’s family, many from other corps joined us for worship.
Before worship this morning our senior sections shared some pre-meeting music – First the songsters sang Amazing God, before the band played the Leslie Condon’s festival march Celebration. As we played Celebration, Major’s Chris and Lynda marched into the hall behind our corps flag, accompanied by our Divisional Commander Major Richard Borrett, who led our meetings today.
As part of Majors Chris and Lynda’s retirement service, Major Richard presented them with framed copies of their retirement certificates. Major Lynda shared some of the stories behind some the items she found while packing, which they had collected over the years. She told us of the 3 ‘P’ they’d been told of as cadets at the training college – She told us how she wouldn’t miss ‘preaching’ or ‘paperwork’, but would miss the all ‘people’. Major Chris told us this was also what he would miss most, before reminding us again that we must never forget not just WHO we are, but WHOSE we are. He told us several times today that him and Lynda were “just a couple from Paisley, who God has used in His service”, and so there’s no reason why God can’t use us too!
Both meetings today included tributes from a number of people, and this morning included
- A family tribute from Chris Connelly junior and Majors Chris and Lynda’s grandchildren;
- Commissioner Anthony Cottrell; and
- Major Helen Bryden spoke on behalf of Bellshill corps, and then Olwyn Mathie and Melvyn Shanks presented Majors Chris and Lynda with gifts from Bellshill corps, which included flowers and a ‘box of blessings’ – This contained personal messages/blessings to Chris and Lynda, written by the folks at the corps.
The meeting included contributions from our YP sections, as well as the vocal solo Hallelujah sung by Olwyn Mathie, accompanied by Major Chris on the guitar.
The band concluded this morning’s meeting with Olaf Ritman’s arrangement of The Lord is Gracious. It is based on Psalm 103 and includes the words “The Lord is gracious, abounding in perfect love, and slow to anger. He rules the earth in Heav’n above”.
After a buffet lunch, to which everyone was invited, we shared in a celebration praise meeting, again led by our Divisional Commander Major Richard Borrett.
The band started the afternoon celebrations by playing the march Praise. As we played, Majors Chris and Lynda once again marched into the hall behind our corps flag, accompanied by our Divisional Commander Major Richard Borrett.
A number of people paid tribute to Majors Chris and Lynda’s service as Salvation Army officers this afternoon, this included
- Majors Jean and Cliff Bradbury;
- David Gibb from Govan corps;
- Major David Wing, Erskine;
- Major Bob McIntyre;
- Majors Debbie and Matthew Bennett;
- Billy Ferguson from Irvine New Town corps;
- Commissioners Carol and Ivor Telfer, Pakistan; and
- Bette and Pete McFarlane from Clydebank corps.
We several soloists this afternoon, the first Lynda and Chris’ daughter Caron Cuthbert, who played the flugel horn solo Share My Yoke, accompanied by the band. Here’s a few of the words associated with the melody:
When I’m tired and nothing’s going right for me;
When things I’ve counted on just do not come my way;
When in my mind the thick grey folds of doubt arise,
It’s then I seem to hear him say:
Share my yoke and find that I am joined with you.
Your slightest movement I shall feel and be there too!
Share my yoke and come the way that I must go!
In our “togetherness” my peace you’ll know;
The world beholding us will see it so!
We also had two vocal solos
– Olwyn Mathie sang We’ve Only Just Began which was a hit for The Carpenters
– Bobby Irvine sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables
Our senior sections also took part this afternoon. Before the band shared Darren Shaw’s Guardian of My Soul, Bandmaster Yvonne Ferguson thanked Majors Chris and Lynda for the support they had given both to the band and to her as bandmaster. She then presented them with a framed photo of the band playing at Symphony Sounds in Birmingham a few weeks ago, and of the band’s latest CD Immeasurable – Chris played in the band on this CD and at Birmingham.
I worship you, God’s only Son,
Who took my sins to the cross
So I could be completely free
To follow where you lead.
Lord you wounds are now my healing,
And I am wholly yours.
You know my name and where I’m going,
Guardian of my soul.
O let me hear thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will.
O speak to reassure me,
To chasten or control;
O speak to make me listen,
Thou guardian of my soul.
I’ll follow you, God’s only Son,
Along the road to the cross,
No other place can I find grace,
Unfathomed and unflawed.
And as I reach the hill of Calvary
And see your open arms,
I’ll know my name and where I’m going,
Guardian of my soul
Majors Chris and Lynda were also presented with another framed picture from Bellshill corps which includes words from scripture and lists each of the appointments they have had during their time as officers.
The band concluded today’s celebrations by playing Major Chris’ favourite march, Montreal Citadel during which they marched out the worship hall behind our corps flag.
It was evident today in everything that was said, that Majors Chris and Lynda have a great relationship with one another, with those they come into contact with, and most importantly, with God. We thank you both for your 35 years of service as Salvation army officers, and thank you for the love, support and blessings you’ve shared with so many during that time.
Servants of God well done – Enjoy your retirement!
Please pray for Majors Chris and Lynda as they start this new chapter in their lives.
We also ask that you pray for our corps and our leadership team as we enter a period where we will be without corps officers.