General Cox brings in new year in Southern California

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Salvation Army international leaders attend New Year’s Eve event at Tustin Ranch Corps.

By Karen Gleason –

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On Dec. 31, 2016, General André Cox delivered the message at The Salvation Army Tustin Ranch Corps’ annual New Year’s Eve Dinner and Concert, in Tustin, California. The Oslo (Norway) Temple Band provided music, along with the Tustin Ranch Band.

Corps Officer Captain Nigel Cross introduced special guests and Captain Stacy Cross gave the invocation. Along with the General and Commissioner Silvia Cox, World President of Women’s Ministries, attendees included the West’s new territorial leaders, Commissioners Kenneth and Jolene Hodder, Chief Secretary Colonel Doug Riley and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries Colonel Colleen Riley, Southern California divisional leaders, Lt. Colonels Kyle and Lisa Smith, and territorial cabinet members Lt. Colonels Victor and Joan Doughty, Lt. Colonels Steve and Marcia Smith, and Lt. Colonels Lee and Michele Lescano.

After dinner, the Tustin Ranch Band (Ed Freeman, Bandmaster) and the Oslo Temple Band (Bandmaster Yngve Slettholm), took the stage and together performed the march “Celebration” (Leslie Condon). Slettholm then spoke about the evening’s musical selections, which included five Nordic items plus some classic Salvation Army tunes. The Nordic items included the not-yet-published jazz-inspired “Lift Up” (Morgan Juel Stavik) and “Oslo Temple,” which Slettholm wrote in 2007 for the 119th anniversary of the band.

The Tustin Ranch Band performed “Christmas 2016” (Brian Hogg), an upbeat medley of Christmas tunes. The bands continued to take turns, with the Oslo Temple Band playing “I Want to Tell You” (Andreas Holmlund), which featured euphonium soloist Marcus Hammarberg, and “Stand Up” (Anders Beijer), which featured xylophone soloist Tobias Jutestal. Tustin Ranch played “The Call of the Righteous” (Leslie Condon) and “The Blessing” (William Himes).

After Oslo Temple performed the classic “Symphony of Thanksgiving” (Dean Goffin), gifts were exchanged. Norway, Iceland and The Faeroes Territory Chief Secretary Colonel Jan Peder Fosen thanked the Crosses for their hospitality with a card and gift, and Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien gave the Oslo Temple Band a gift on behalf of the Tustin Ranch Band.

Each band offered one more individual selection: Tustin Ranch played the Beatles classic “When I’m 64” (Paul McCartney) and Oslo Temple played the slow swing number, “I’ll Trust in Thee” (Eiliv Herikstad).

“Tonight’s event is truly a celebration,” Commissioner Kenneth Hodder said. “[It’s] a strong expression of confidence in God’s blessings in the year to come.” He spoke of The Salvation Army’s commitment to internationalism, the knowledge that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all men, all women and all children, at every moment of every day and year.”

Hodder introduced the Coxes, noting how well they represent the Army’s international spirit, having served in many of the 128 countries where The Salvation Army is active. He referred to Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (NIV).

“These are leaders who truly believe The Salvation Army can and will win the world for Jesus,” Hodder said.

In his devotional, General Cox focused on a simple but profound theme: “God was there.” He reflected on the notable people who died in 2016, including astronaut John Glenn, who said that his experience in space strengthened his belief in God.

Another late astronaut, James Irwin, walked on the moon in 1971. For him, the spiritual significance of this experience was so great that he devoted the rest of his life to Jesus Christ. Cox recalled Irwin’s words: “I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before.”

Far and above the scientific advances of space exploration, “God walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon,” Cox recalled Irwin saying.

“We can have peace, assurance that no matter what difficulties we face, our eternal destiny is secure not because man walked on the moon but because God walked on earth,” Cox said. He quoted John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (1-3)

Looking back at 2016, Cox said: “I hope we, too, can testify that God was there. 2017 is an unknown. As we stand on the threshold of 2017, this is not a time for us to shy away. This is a time when God’s people need to be mobilized, to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, to show the light of God’s love to the world.”

The evening concluded with the Oslo Temple and Tustin Ranch bands joining for an arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” (Ian Robinson).

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