Major Brian Saunders

A year at Crestmont

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Training principal reflects on the academic year

By Brian Saunders, Major – 

On a quiet, sunny day along the Southern California coast Aug. 8, 2015, 104 cadets of the Messengers of Light and Joyful Intercessors sessions descended upon the College for Officer Training in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. for the start of the 2015-2016 academic year.

Within days, the cadets and their families settled into the routine: sending kids off to schools, taking classes, after-school activities, dinners in the campus dining room, homework and, eventually, bed.

But Crestmont is no ordinary college. True, the cadets receive a fully accredited associate of arts degree in ministry upon graduation. True, they spend many of their days in classrooms under the tutelage of qualified instructors. True, they study and take tests just like at other schools.

That’s where the similarities end.  

Crestmont offers a full-time, two-year, residential cohort program designed to equip men and women for ministry as officers in The Salvation Army. Cadets study topics ranging from counseling and sociology to theology and biblical studies. Lessons cover everything from preparing and leading worship services to providing emergency disaster services. Significantly, over 20 percent of the training period is spent on field internships—where the cadets experience hands-on training in locations across the territory.

Most important, training is about spiritual formation. Cadets receive opportunity and space to grow in their relationship with God—to connect with him on a deeper level, and to develop their own spiritual maturity throughout the 22 months of training. The most critical prerequisite for officership, after all, is a pure heart and a soul ready to commit fully to God’s will and design.

This week, prior to Commencement, the cadets of the Messengers of Light Session knelt at the altar in the chapel at Crestmont to sign their officer covenant. Each has pledged and bound themselves to God and to his service in the ranks of The Salvation Army. They have covenanted to “love and serve Him supremely…to live to win souls…to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable and befriend those who have no friends.”

Today, Sunday, June 12, is Commissioning day. The 48 members of the Messengers of Light walk across the stage to be ordained and commissioned. It is a special day; a sacred day. A day God foresaw eons ago when he set creation in place. He called these men and women to be Messengers of Light. To be his witnesses and ambassadors in communities across this territory.

So today we celebrate. We praise God for his providence in continuing to call up men and women for his service. We thank God for the Messengers of Light, and pray his blessings and guidance upon them as they take up their first appointments. And let us each pledge to follow their example. Let’s all promise to share God’s love to those around us. Let’s all be messengers of Light.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5 NIV).


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