Rain may have interfered with the march and plans for open-air worship, but nothing could dampen the spirits of Salvationists from Hadleigh and surrounding and other Christian friends when it came to celebrating the anniversary of William Booth establishing the Army in Hadleigh.
Over 150 people gathered in a barn at The Salvation Army farm for a united Songs of Praise, which was hosted by the training centre’s chaplain Major Howard Evans and led by Majors Howard and Shei na Davies who were visiting from Australia. Hadleigh Temple Band and Songsters provided the music.
Among those present were mayors of Castle Point and Southend, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, the chairman of Leigh Town Council and various borough councillors.
Key parts of the service were presentations on the past, present and future of Hadleigh Farm and Training Centre. First up was historian Gordon Parkhill, a soldier at Leigh-on-Sea and co-author of the book Hadleigh Salvation Army Farm, A Vision Reborn. He recalled how a journey would have been from London to Hadleigh 100 years ago and read a report of a colonist who had been to Australia.
Manager of the training centre, Shelley Carter described centre’s services training for disabled people in eight disciplines, backed up by the efforts of employment placement officers. She said that the vehicle may be different from William Booth’s day but the vision was the same.
Divisional Director for Community and Social Services, Beverley Egan, spoke of the plans to extend the training centre to Park Farm and was optimistic about the outreach opportunities next year when the Olympic mountain biking event takes place on the farm.
After the service Lord Petre (the Lord Lieutenant) said after the service that he was enthusiastic about the exuberant music. This was typified by the Songsters singing the very upbeat Praise His Holy Name and the band’s choice of marches, for example Montreal Citadel when the timbrels joined in. When this occurred, Major Davies immediately called for an encore of the last section, asking the congregation to join in. He was somewhat surprised to learn that British people are unfamiliar with the words so well-known in Australia “I’m Happy Today”. The words we are used to for that tune are “One Talent Have I”.
The congregational hymns chosen were well-known to encourage wide participation among denominations, but the final song just had to be the Founder’s song with the great climax:
And now, hallelujah! the rest of my days
Shall gladly be spent in promoting his praise
Who opened his bosom to pour out this sea
Of boundless salvation for you and for me.
Pictures by Maurice Coles