Commissioning weekend filled with celebration, worship and vision.


Captain Jonathan Harvey speaks with enthusiasm during the Service of Ordination.

A Vision for Mission provided the inspiration, motivation and dedication of capacity audiences who filled every venue of the 2006 Commissioning Weekend.

Climaxing three full days of celebration and worship involving over a thousand people, a dynamic dozen of the Army’s newest captains crossed the stage of the Cerritos Performing Arts Center and received their first appointments to the field as Salvation Army officers —ordained ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Commissioners Earle and Wilma Maxwell were special guests of the USA West’s Territorial Leaders, Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers.


It started Friday morning. A heavy marine layer obliterated the magnificent view of Catalina Island, hanging off the coast of Southern California. Undeterred, and moving quickly into a large tent as a shield from the steady drizzle, the cadets of the Visionaries Session received their degrees and their certificates of completion signifying they were ready to be commissioned. Territorial Chief Secretary, Lt. Colonel Donald Bell, offered the commencement address, and Cadet Daisy Darnell spoke for the session.

Family Fiesta and Silver Stars

Following the commencement activities, a Family Fiesta filled the afternoon with fellowship, fun, frolic and food on the now sun-filled Crestmont lawn. The championship round of the Bible Bowl competition found finalists from three corps with the Fort Collins, Colo. corps taking the gold ring as the territory’s 2006 Bible Bowl champion. Parents received Silver Stars from their children at a special luncheon during which Cadet Julie Feist paid tribute to them for their continuing support of the future officers.

Trailblazers and Sara Groves

That evening, Dr. Robert Docter, editor-in-chief, New Frontier Publications, introduced the recipients of the 2006 Trailblazer award, given to individuals who have contributed innovative and creative work on behalf of the Army. Swyers presented the awards to Captains David and Ruth Scott, corps officers in Tulare, Calif.; Mr. Herb Mead, longtime advisory board member from Seattle, Wash.; Mary Ruth Hanson, a soldier, employee, and volunteer from San Diego, Calif.; and Richard Wiseman, for a lifetime of committed and dedicated service to the Army.

Singer songwriter Sara Groves shared her life and her music with sensitivity, beauty and inspiration and Swyers concluded the evening with a devotional message.

Windows of the World

Saturday evening at Cerritos allowed the territory’s newest THQ department to take flight with “Windows of the World,” a Gospel arts celebration. Moving dramatically through a range of musical styles—from traditional to contemporary and on to avant garde—the audience had continual lessons in multicultural transmission of the gospel and an evening-long examination of the 150th Psalm.
Presentations by the Seattle Temple Band, led by Stefan Wennstig, praised God with the sound of brass and loud cymbals; the Pasadena Tabernacle Youth Choir, led by Barbara Allen, praised him with voice and song; the Tournament of Roses Timbrels praised him with timbrels; Alaskan Tlingit Dancers, Irene Lewis’s interpretative dance, and the Halua Hula dancers praised him with movement and dance. Praise Works from Southern California and the Golden State drama team used every breath to praise the Lord.

Swyers commissioned the recently established Western Territorial Band, led by Territorial Music Secretary Neil Smith. He promised that the group would be active throughout the territory. They accompanied Barbara Allen and the massed songsters with the moving message “They Could Not.”

Swyers presented the territory’s World Service check for $6.1 million dollars to Maxwell who served as a representative of IHQ.

Ordination and Commissioning

Those present Sunday morning within the capacity audience learned that they were witnesses to the trust The Salvation Army has bestowed on those ordained and commissioned as captains who enter a mission partnership designed to build God’s kingdom. Twelve stood ready to proceed—obedient to God’s call, studied and trained, having privately signed a covenant affirming the dedication to that mission—making the salvation of the lost their primary priority.

In a sacred moment, each cadet came forward and knelt at the holiness table for prayer. The Territorial Commander placed his hands on each of them individually, stating: “I commission you and ordain you as a minister of Christ in The Salvation Army. You will be his servant with the rank of captain, and our prayer is that Christ will be seen in you.”

Commissioner Maxwell spoke on Christ’s vision of a mission in which his message is carried to the entire world—a global vision. “Human spirit fails unless the Holy Spirit fills,” he said. Then, directly to the new captains, he asked: “Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? May God equip us all as we wait upon him.”

Following a time of personal commitment with their families, the new captains heard Candidates’ Secretary Major Nancy Dihle invite accepted candidates, potential candidates, and those hearing God’s call to officership to join her. The stage filled quickly as the young and not-so-young packed the stage from end to end signifying their desire to become Salvation Army officers and help make Christ’s vision a reality.

Appointed to the field

With fanfare and celebration, the dynamic dozen Visionaries stood before Swyers to receive their first appointments. With more than a touch of Swyers’ humor combined with his obvious affection for them, each saluted and marched forth.

One of their own, Captain Terrence Masango, testified of the power of friendship found in the Army, of his resistance for many years and, finally, his surrender to the call. They had sung together that they had “caught the vision” of a world in need of a healing ministry and that now, as God’s soldiers, they were ready to march as to war and fill the world with glory, singing the gospel story and turning the world upside down.

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