Commissioning ’09

Witnesses are sent into West

From June 12-14, the Western Territory celebrated the graduation, ordination and commissioning of the Witnesses for Christ Session. Sixteen cadets and four auxiliary captains became Salvation Army lieutenants and captains, respectively.

“If ever in the world, particularly in America, we would need witnesses for Christ, it is today,” said National Commander Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, special guest with his wife and National President of Women’s Ministries, Eva.

Leading the weekend activities were the West’s territorial leaders, Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers, along with territorial chief secretary, Colonel William Harfoot; territorial secretary for women’s ministries, Colonel Susan Harfoot; and the College for Officer Training (CFOT) leaders, Majors Stephen and Marcia Smith.

The Territorial Band, conducted by Bandmaster Neil Smith, and the Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters, led by Martin Hunt, provided music.

SUNDAY: Appointments
The service of appointments began with recognition of the summer service corps teams and the Bible Bowl trophy winners.

Thirty Bible Bowl teams, comprising over 200 young people throughout the Western Territory, memorized the book of Luke and participated in multiple rounds of competition. Swyers and Major Ivan Wild, territorial youth secretary, announced the three teams with the highest points: 3) San Diego Kroc and Citadel, Calif.; 2) Phoenix South Mountain, Ariz.; 1) Fort Collins, Colo., who claimed their fourth consecutive victory.

Swyers and New Frontier Editor-in-Chief Bob Docter then presented three of the five Trailblazer Awards for 2009 to: Dick Davenport and the Alaska Construction Team from Tustin Ranch, Calif.; Lothar Vasholz, advisory board member from Cathedral City, Calif.; and Pauline Pavao, Family Intervention Services executive director from Hilo, Hawaii.

In his charge to the new lieutenants, Gaither instructed each new officer to “show up.”

“As a commissioned graduate of the College for Officer Training, you automatically have a job to do and will immediately step into a leadership role,” Gaither said. “There are people in a place waiting for you to show up. Show up with a purpose and a burning passion to do good.

“We’re waiting for you to arrive,” he said. “I can’t wait for you to get to the field.”

Swyers presented each new lieutenant and their family with their first assignment, playfully exchanging increasingly lower bows with Lieutenants Daniel and Olivia Shin, who attended training out of Seoul, Korea, and pausing to allow Lieutenant Loreen Petzing’s mother a chance to take a photo.

Commissioning and ordination
At the commissioning and ordination service, the 16 cadets—nine of whom are first-generation Salvationists—and the four auxiliary captains stood to recite the 11 Army doctrines. Swyers accepted their affirmation of faith and commissioned and ordained each as an officer in The Salvation Army.

Gaither focused his sermon on John 21 and the story of Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved him.

“Mornings like this place us before God and give rise to the question first asked by Jesus on the beach to a small group of witnesses—‘Do you love me?’” Gaither said. “Jesus has a way of probing, challenging and disrupting. Like he questioned Peter centuries ago, he is questioning me, and every person in this auditorium today.”

During a call for future officers, 102 persons responded.

SATURDAY: Army of the Lord
Acknowledging the success of the “Come Join our Army” initiative, the territory welcomed its newest soldiers during a celebration on Saturday evening. Commissioners Gaither spoke during the meeting and assisted Commissioners Swyers during the enrollment of 74 junior and 202 senior soldiers from the Southern California, Sierra del Mar and Southwest divisions. In a video message, General Shaw Clifton sent his greetings to the territory, and expressed his joy and thanksgiving to the new soldiers.

FRIDAY: Commencement
Official commencement ceremonies took place at CFOT where the cadets said farewell to training college.

After the graduating class took its place alongside the Prayer Warriors Session, the cadets launched into the session song, by Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien and Duncan Sutton.

In his commendation of and instruction to the cadets, Harfoot drew from John 14. “The world doesn’t need mediocrity,” he said. “The world needs great officers.”

Following the ceremony, Siemon Hall—the CFOT new housing facility—was officially opened with a ribbon cutting and dedication.

Cadets honored their parents and mentors in the annual Silver Star banquet. Each cadet pinned their Silver Star honorees and Commissioners Swyers presented a framed certificate to all of the 29 recipients. Seven cadets received a white rose in memory of their mother or father.

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