The newly-appointed international leader of the Salvation Army will make his first visit to Belfast this weekend.
General Brian Peddle – from Newfoundland in Canada – leads the 1.5million-strong church and charity.
He and his wife, Commissioner Rosalie, will be guests of honour at the celebrations today and tomorrow at the church corps in Sydenham to celebrate the Salvation Army’s work in the city.
General Peddle, 61, (pictured inset) said: “I’ve been to Ireland and Northern Ireland on several occasions so I’m not totally unfamiliar with the Emerald Isle. This will be my first time in Belfast.”
Of his role as international leader he said: “I am in a position where I can encourage the global Salvation Army which is made up of all the bits and pieces of innumeral communities throughout the world.
“Belfast is one of those communities where we’ve had a Salvation Army which has served for more than 100 years and is still quite strong and connected to its community and looking forward to serving people hand–in–hand with other agencies leading up to Christmas.”
He added: “I’m now the international leader by election. It’s the pinnacle if you look at it in terms of structure but in terms of my calling to ministry, both my wife and I would record that the best ministry is a ministry to people.”
Already a well-travelled minister, his new role will see him continue to tour the world: “The Salvation Army serves in 131 countries in the world, we’ve already found our way to national offices in more than 30 of those.
“After Ireland we’ll be travelling on to Sri Lanka and then Tanzania and so the story goes.”