“Be my Witnesses…”
Witnesses for Christ Session ready to share good news with waiting world.
by Robert Docter –
While “June Gloom” has spread its overcast, gray tentacles throughout much of southern California in recent days, the “son” vanquished all gloom at this Friday’s Commencement ceremonies at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont (CFOT).
The Witnesses for Christ Session of Salvation Army cadets said farewell to training college this Friday in a stunning Commencement ceremony that included the Army’s national leaders, Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither, our territorial leaders, Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers, the territorial chief secretary, Colonel William Harfoot accompanied by the territorial secretary for women’s ministries, Colonel Susan Harfoot, and the college’s faculty led by CFOT leaders Majors Stephen and Marcia Smith.
The cadets, as Witnesses for Christ, appeared ready to share their spiritual commitment with a highly needful waiting world. Their eagerness to get working in their appointments was evident from the start.
Marching through the Rose Garden
Ceremonies began with the traditional march through the Rose Garden by the graduating class, and as usual, feelings of serious excitement permeated the surroundings. After taking their places with the assembled Prayer Warriors Session members and other program participants, they launched immediately into their session song, written for them by Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien and Duncan Sutton. Major Marcia Smith led prayers, and Jim Reeves, chair of the Crestmont Council added greetings. Following a congregational song, led by Assistant Principal Major Timothy Foley, the Territorial Commander introduced the Army’s national leaders, Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither.
In his message, Colonel William Harfoot drew from John 14:12—read by National President of Women’s Ministries Commissioner Eva Gaither: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father (NKJ).
Harfoot commended the cadets and instructed them to become great officers. To do this, he said they must keep their eyes on Jesus, keep their eyes and hearts open for God’s opportunities and keep close to the Holy Spirit.
“The world doesn’t need mediocrity, “ Harfoot said, “The world needs great officers.”
Commissioner Swyers, assisted by Major Smith, presented the academic degrees to each of the cadets. “We must go without familiar things to be open to influence and to change,” said Cadet Loreen Petzing, the session speaker. “It is in these times of change and newness when God will take what we have learned in this place and bring us into a deeper understanding of what he has called us to be.”
Siemon Hall dedicated
Following the recessional, the assembly moved on to the dedication of Siemon Hall, the new living quarters for cadets and their families (see story on page 1). Foley described the new apartments as “a tremendous blessing and a wonderful gift for future sessions of cadets.”
The 16-member session, now joined by four auxiliary captains who will be promoted to the rank of captain, has brought with it considerable life experience and rich maturity both in life and in ministry. The average age of the session is 33. Only six of the members have an Army heritage. The remaining ten are first time Salvationists. There is a rich multi-ethnic grouping with the session. Newly commissioned Lieutenants Daniel and Olivia Shin—from the Korean Territory—will return to that territory where they will receive their specific appointment.
After much hard work and diligent preparation, CFOT received its accreditation renewal from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. This makes it possible for graduates to continue their education at other institutions of higher learning and receive credit for their course work.
Teaching and learning
“An important curricular innovation this year has been on a new course that has focused on emerging trends in Salvation Army ministry in a rapidly changing world,” Foley said. Additionally, the college has renewed an emphasis on Salvation Army basics from theology to Emergency Disaster Services (EDS),” he said. “Twice during these two years the cadets have experienced firsthand the Army’s EDS work in the field.”
Noting that the Prayer Warriors Session is twice the size of the Witnesses, Foley was asked about the teaching schedule of classes and whether or not there would be difficulty in providing optimum experiences for the increasingly larger sized sessions. He commented that over this past year they have already had experience with teaching a session of over 30 and anticipate the need to evaluate some scheduling issues now that the newly entering Ambassadors of Holiness Session joining the Warriors will be of even larger size.