Annual event ushers in largest-ever combined sessions.
By Bob Docter
“What a thrill it is to have to find a larger auditorium to welcome a new session of Salvation Army cadets to the territory,” Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs said as he greeted the 62 members of the Disciples of the Cross Session of cadets who joined 63 members of the Proclaimers of the Resurrection Session on the stage of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Welcome of Cadets event.
Accounting for an historic number of cadets in the Western Territory, the combined sessions of 125 cadets equate to roughly 10 percent of all Army cadets around the world.
Knaggs formally accepted the incoming class and presented the session flag to Cadet Caleb Montes, before directly challenging the cadets.
“If it is your desire to please God, whether it is in The Salvation Army or not, you must commit to two essential points,” Knaggs said, referencing 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 and Colossians 1:9-12. “First, you must be holy, for God did not call us to impurity but to holiness, and second, you must show up so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.”
Major Timothy Foley, College for Officer Training (CFOT) principal, responded on behalf of the cadets and faculty and commented on the creative, imaginative and inspirational character of the session.
One of its members, Cadet Gary Dobney, offered a testimony, identifying himself as a “sinner saved by grace” and someone who formerly lived outside God’s will. While a Marine and then a teacher,
Dobney says he resisted the Lord’s call.
“Here, I finally answered, and now, God is using my skills,” Dobney said.
Ushers collected an offering for the Army’s anti-trafficking efforts before Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs read Philippians 2:5-9 and John 7:53-8:11.
The evening’s speaker, General Shaw Clifton (Ret.), was the Army’s 18th General from 2006-2011 and holds a doctorate degree from Kings College in the UK. Various appointments brought Clifton and his wife Helen (promoted to Glory in 2011) to service in all five Army zones.
“It was not difficult picking out a topic for this time together,” Clifton said with warmth and informality as among friends. “The Holy Spirit and the name of this new session of cadets, Disciples of the Cross, lead us to Calvary. If you want resurrection power, you must be crucified with Christ.”
Yet rather than focusing on what happened to Christ’s body, Clifton said he would focus on what happened to his mind—the crucified mind—and reminded the audience that Philippians 2 urges us to have the same mind as that within Jesus.
“What kind of mind is in you?” he asked. “Is it crucified? It it humble? Does it show love to others? Is it strong through the presence of Christ? Do you have a cross-conscious mind? Have you the mind of Christ?”
Clifton referred to the woman caught in adultery, and dragged before Jesus by the Pharisees.
“She’s nothing, nameless, only to be used,” he said. “It stinks of corruption. She’s alone, humiliated, and they are deep in their ignorance. Don’t be like that.”
Knowing punishment for adultery was stoning, the text says Jesus said nothing, but touched the ground, writing.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”(John 8:7 NIV).
Clifton narrated the scene, explaining that slowly, one by one, they left, and Jesus was alone with the woman standing before him.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin,” (8:10-11).
“The crucified mind at work liberates the guilty and restores dignity to the downtrodden, not condemnation,” Clifton said. “Similarly, The Salvation Army is here to put things right. It is God whispering into the souls of his children.”
During a time of commitment, cadets left the platform and prayed and ministered to seekers at the altar. Roughly 50 people took to the stage, declaring themselves candidates for officer training.
Music featured the Cadet Chorus, led by Erin Riesebieter, and the Territorial Youth Band, led by Richard Opina.