The Salvation Army has been meeting the spiritual, personal and even the nourishment needs of Estevan area residents for a century, and centennial activities that were offered from May 2 to 4 were fitting for such a milestone.
Lieutenant Brian Bobolo said the celebrations were a wonderful opportunity to renew acquaintances, as former officers returned to Estevan for the weekend. Church members who had moved away came back to Estevan, too, creating a homecoming atmosphere.
“It was a great time to pause for a weekend, celebrate relationships, and celebrate the work of the Salvation Army,” said Bobolo.
Many stories were shared during the weekend, too.
The centennial weekend kicked off with a family fun night on May 2. The Salvation Army hosts a family fun night on the first Friday of each month, and they decided to incorporate it into the centennial festivities. Children and adults played games, and many people viewed history books.
“Our church members had a great time putting up our church history, and putting together the displays,” said Bobolo. “It really moved them in a really meaningful way. Some of them are the senior members of our congregation, and their lives are intertwined with the local Salvation Army, and have been for so many years.”
Those who viewed the history books and photos were touched by the displays, Bobolo said.
Festivities resumed in the afternoon of May 3. First there was a service that featured music from the Regina Salvation Army's Haven of Hope brass band.
Captains Kirk and Linda Green, who were the local officers from 2000 to 2005, returned for the centennial. Kirk Green delivered a message to the large crowd that attended the service.
“He preached on the faithfulness of God to his people, including his people here in Estevan,” said Bobolo.
The evening featured a supper in which the Salvation Army reflected on its history and its accomplishments. Speeches and letters came from local, provincial, national and international leaders.
General Andre Cox, who is the international leader for the Salvation Army, sent a letter, and said that an occasion like a 100th birthday is an opportunity to reflect. It is also a chance to remember those who helped establish and expand the Salvation Army in the community.
“Today, I join you in celebrating the work witnessed in the Estevan corps through the years, and praise our Lord for every person who has faithfully reached out to the local community,” Cox said.
His letter was read by Ada Boulet, who is a member of the local church.
Commissioner Brian Peddle, who heads up the Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, also submitted in a letter.
“It will be encouraging to recall the hundreds of individuals and families who have been influenced by the vision and the service of the Salvation Army during the years,” said Peddle, whose letter was read by local church member Linda Robbins.
Others who sent in letters were Prairie commander Major Wayne Bungay, and several former local corps officers: Major Joan Shaylor, Captains James and Shelley Rands; and Captain Heather Matondo (formerly Heather Fudge).
Major Mike Hoeft, who is the commander for the Salvation Army in Saskatchewan, was in Estevan to salute the 100-year milestone.
“I'm very excited that the Estevan Salvation Army is continuing to get stronger and stronger, and that there are partnerships that have been established in the community,” said Hoeft.
The flood of 2011 is an example of how the Salvation Army meets the needs of the community during trying times, thanks to the partnerships that it forms, Hoeft said.
Several others spoke at the dinner. City Councillor Lori Carr brought greetings on behalf of council. St. Paul's United Church Rev. Brenna Nickel discussed how St. Paul's and the Salvation Army have partnered on the Warm Welcome shelter the two previous winters.
Majors Len and Ros Millar, who were the local corps officers from 2009 to 2012, reflected on their times in Estevan. They also brought congratulations from Envoys Garry and Joyce Jones, who were Estevan's officers prior to the Millars' arrival.
The centennial weekend wrapped up with a Sunday morning church service on May 4. Captain Linda Green discussed the response that people can have to God.
Bobolo said the centennial was a great time to celebrate relationships within the church and the community, and to recognize the partnerships that have been formed to help make the Salvation Army a success.