A weekend for warriors

West’s Prayer Warriors are commissioned, ordained and appointed.

by Christin Davis –

Red epaulets secured, the Western Territory’s 27 newest lieutenants—draped in Prayer Warriors sashes—marched into the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on June 13 amidst great fanfare, flag waving and shouts from the 1,350 people in attendance.

“We’re happy The Salvation Army showed up this afternoon,” said Colonel William Harfoot, chief secretary, who presided over the service. “There’s joy in this Army!”

Following two years of study at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont, the lieutenants eagerly awaited appointment to his/her first location as a Salvation Army officer. And, with their official retirement ceremony slated for just after the appointments, Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers—the West’s territorial commander and territorial president of women’s ministries since January 2005—were jovial, spontaneous, informal and all-around entertaining. Yet, the Swyers were also cognizant that this would be the last session they would commission and appoint after over five years of leadership in the Western Territory—and 92 years of combined service in The Salvation Army.

Commissioning events
The festivities of Commissioning 2010 began on June 9, when the Prayer Warriors signed the officer’s covenant before Swyers and Major Stephen Smith, training principal, in the now renamed Eugene and Hazel Rice Chapel at CFOT. Nearby, the Adam Gifford Education Building was also renamed.

Special guests for the weekend, Commissioners James and Ruth Osborne, are friends of the Swyers from the Southern Territory. Osborne, now retired, previously served in a number of leadership roles throughout the nation, including National Commander (1989-1993).

On June 11, over 800 guests watched the cadets graduate from the college, many with an Associate of Arts (AA) in Ministries degree. This session is the 89th to complete training at CFOT since 1921, and it is the 20th year that the college has awarded an AA accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The “Crescendo of Praise: Serving the Present Age” program dazzled the audience on June 12 as video testimonies and worship arts depicted the Christian journey, featuring music by the territorial band, songsters, youth band and youth chorus—creations of the Swyers.

With reverence on the morning of June 13, each of the 27 cadets affirmed his/her faith and was commissioned as a lieutenant in The Salvation Army.

“What a thrill it was to see the Prayer Warriors session of cadets accept their commissions,” Smith said. “They are truly ready to do God’s work in a world that desperately needs them.”

Sending out
In the appointment service, Swyers spoke to the lieutenants, reciting Paul’s words from Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of your vocation, wherein you are called.”

He instructed they do three things in their new role: preach the word, be an evangelist and finish the fight.

Standing in the shadow of a 40 ft. by 24 ft. Salvation Army flag and flanked by rows of past session flags, Swyers met each lieutenant at center stage—often with the Texas Longhorn hand gesture, a representation, as he says, of “I’m going to heaven and I’m doubly sure.”

Each lieutenant received an assignment across the territory’s 10 divisions and ARC command; two lieutenants will return home to the Korea Territory.

Recognizing service
While these officers received initial appointment in The Salvation Army, others were honored for reaching milestones in their career—between 25 and 40 years of service in the Army.

Swyers also presented four trailblazer awards, with Dr. Robert Docter, New Frontier Publications editor in chief, who began the award (formerly called “Frontiersman”) in 1986 to recognize outstanding service to the Army.

Territorial Youth Secretary Major Ivan Wild introduced the top three Bible Bowl teams to the crowd. A total of 36 teams competed this year, but Fort Collins, Colo., won for the fifth consecutive year.

Moving forward
When the final lieutenant stepped forward to be appointed by the Swyers—the last in the session and their career—Swyers turned to the crowd and invited to the stage Lt. Brent Church’s grandfather, Colonel George Church, who was commissioned on the same day in 1960. Recognizing this legacy, Swyers invited Church to complete the appointment of his grandson.

That morning, 99 individuals had accepted a call to officership.

“It is thrilling to see God working in the lives of so many people, and their response to that call,” said Lt. Col. David Hudson, territorial personnel secretary, who noted that 42 individuals will enter CFOT in the Friends of Christ 2010-2012 session.

After over five years, the Swyers leave the West with quite a legacy of their own.

See appointment listings, long service recipients and trailblazer profiles in New Frontier Vol. 28, No. 11.

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