Majors Ray and Pat Brown, the first officers of The Salvation Army in the Hebrides are returning to lead celebrations to mark 30 years of worship and service to the community from Bayhead, Stornoway.
Majors Ray and Pat Brown will be leading worship at The Salvation Army church on Bayhead on Sunday 8th May at 11am. The current officers Lieutenants Callum and Emma Newton will be leading a celebration and fun evening on Saturday the 7th May at 6pm and want everybody to feel welcome to come to both the Saturday and Sunday. Lieutenant Callum says: ‘If you have had a previous connection to the Stornoway Corps, or indeed if you have never set foot in The Salvation Army, you are most welcome to come and join us in our celebration and worship.’
In 1983, the Browns were appointed by The Salvation Army to commence the work of the international church and charity in the Hebrides, forming Stornoway Corps. Initially The Salvation Army worked from various temporary buildings before opening its present church community building in Bayhead in 1986.
The Browns have very happy memories of their time living in Stornoway, particularly the friendliness of the Islanders to them. Major Ray says: ‘We are both delighted to have the opportunity to revisit a place and people that have always been dear to our hearts.’
Major Pat says: ‘I will never forget the wonderful community spirit on the island. We arrived with a new baby and our second daughter was born on the Island. I would often walk into town from our home in Seaforth Road pushing a pram and lost count of the number of times strangers would stop their cars and offer me a lift.'
The Browns moved from the Island in 1987 and since then have held appointments in New Zealand, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Nottingham and London. Their appointments included leading the Regent Hall Salvation Army Corps on Oxford Street, London, whose brass band are currently featured on the BBC television series ‘The Sally Army and Me' in which Paul O'Grady explores the work of The Salvation Army.
As well as being local church leaders the Majors have since served on Divisional, Territorial and International Headquarters. Major Ray has also spent time as the head of the Salvation Army's International Emergency Services, which took him round the world to support local relief efforts by The Salvation Army in natural and man-made disasters, including Iraq, India, Japan and the Philippines.
In June of this year, the couple will take up new appointments as leaders of the Central South Division of the Salvation Army based in High Wycombe.