Another “welcome” to the cadets

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by Stephen Smith, Major –

The staff at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont enjoys fall mostly because we get to “welcome” a new session of cadets during this time. The welcome process includes a number of steps.

Upon arrival at the school, cadets are directed to the Main Loungeour most welcoming room where they are greeted by the candidates’ secretary, the principal, and CFOT staff. For the first time this year, members of the second-year cadet session were present to mingle with the newcomers in an effort to set the new cadets at ease and make each one feel welcome. A few hours later, we have a welcome chapel, followed by lunch in the campus dining room.

Their first weekend on campus includes a welcome picnic on Saturday and a worship service for the whole family on Sunday.

A couple of weeks later, cadets attend a private welcome banquet that includes the territorial, divisional and youth leaders from the West. The public Welcome of Cadets event happens the next evening. During this meeting, the new cadets march into the auditorium to a spirited band march, the territorial commander accepts and challenges the new session, and they receive their session flag.

By this final welcome, the cadets are usually saying, “Enough already, we feel welcome—let’s get on with it!”

I’ve often wondered why we spend so much time and effort welcoming the new session of cadets. Does it really make a difference to them? My conclusion is that our cadets would probably be fine with a simple welcome event shortly after they arrive. After all, they are here because they are called by God and most do not require the attention that they are given in order to feel welcome or, more importantly, to feel that this is where God wants them to be. But I have also come to the conclusion that these events are significant for The Salvation Army as a whole.

Welcoming a new session of cadets gives us a chance to celebrate the fact that God is still calling people to be officers in the Salvation Army. It underscores to the CFOT staff the enormous task we have of training the cadets that God has entrusted to us for 22 short months. For the territory, it reminds us to acknowledge in our celebration that God provided much needed reinforcements and that his Army of salvation continues to march on.

Jesus acknowledges the need for workers in Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV):

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The Lord of the harvest has answered our prayers and sent us workers for the fields. We welcome our first year cadets in 2008the Prayer Warriors Sessionbecause we are genuinely happy and blessed that they are here. God has provided us people to help continue his work through The Salvation Army for years to come.

So, one final time we say: Welcome, Prayer Warriors! We are thrilled that you are here! Now, let’s get to work.


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