Commissioning and Ordination
Captains Jeff and Katrina Pockett listen as Commissioner Bond speaks to their son Caleb.
Even before the service began—and throughout its complete duration—the Holy Spirit spoke powerfully of humankind’s call to individual and total relationship with God through faith in Christ.
Those assembling for the formal and solemn rites of officer commissioning and ordination of the Army’s newest ministers, the Bridgebuilders, sensed the quiet dignity evident in the spacious sanctuary of the Pasadena Nazarene Church and moved quietly into their seats. The steps leading from the center aisle to the stage were covered by the Army flag, and atop the steps lay the Army flag. Immediately above it stood a Holiness table, saturated with focused light.
The music added immeasurably to the solemn and sanctified mood. The Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters, standing high atop the choir loft, concluded a period of preliminary music with the haunting reminder by Harry Reid and Robert Redhead Thou hast called me—by my name. The music’s echo faded delicately from the room as the Tustin Ranch Band’s cornet section, in a unified solo voice, played Ivor Bosanko’s arrangement of All There is of Me, Lord—All there is of me—On thine altar here I lay—All there is of me. As the final phrase disappeared in the room, the entire band joined the melody with rich and moving chords. The corps of cadets entered behind Cadet David Leonard who carried their session flag with precision and bearing. The melody and their procession, together, formed an unspoken testimony.
Lt. Colonel Donald Bell, chief secretary, welcomed the Bridgebuilders and the approximate 800 in attendance and reminded us that we are all called as part of the “priesthood of all believers.” The congregation then joined him in singing Brindley Boon’s beautiful words: Thou hast called me from the byway to proclaim thy wondrous love.
Commissioner Carol Bassett, national president of women’s ministries, sought God’s blessing and guidance for His Army in prayer. The Tabernacle Songsters continued a theme of consecration and commitment with Robert Sterling’s dramatic statement of commitment, We will serve the Lord our God for the rest of my days. The national commander, Commissioner W. Todd Bassett, then introduced General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson. He described the General as one who continually demonstrates in all aspects of his life a consistency of character and commitment to God. The audience warmly welcomed the international leaders.
Once again, the music molded the mood as the Tustin Ranch Band selected William Himes’ All That I Am—All I can be—All that I have—All that is me—Accept and use, Lord, as Thou would choose, Lord …Echoes of All there is of me, Lord move through the piece and demand thoughtful and personal examination.
In giving her testimony, Cadet Erin Kauffman stated that she had taken as her own the verses found in Jeremiah 9:23-24. They say:
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.
She disclosed that she had sought the glitter and gold of Las Vegas, and along with most of society joined the “accumulation/experimentation game.” She built a life of significant wealth about which she boasted to family and friends and found only emptiness.
She then read the scripture for the morning found in Mark 8:24-9:1. These are words of Jesus to the crowd and to his disciples that identify the cost and the reward for following in the footsteps of Christ.
In presenting the Bridgebuilders to territorial and international leaders just prior to their being commissioned, Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock, Crestmont College president and principal of the College for Officer Training, noted the number of ways we divide each other in secular society, and challenged them to build bridges for the kingdom. “Relational bridge building like this takes time, material, skill and dedication,” he said. He then presented the session for commissioning.
The session stood and recited the eleven doctrines of The Salvation Army and pledged to uphold them in their lives.
General Larsson stated to them: “Freely you have received—and freely you must give. You have received the power of the Holy Spirit freely—and freely you must give it away.”
He then informed those seated in the audience that he would commission each cadet individually, and Commissioner Bond would provide that person with a personal verse of scripture. He invited each cadet’s parents, friends, fellow soldiers and officers to stand where they were seated during the individual commissioning and ordination.
At this point, each couple or individual cadet came and knelt at the Holiness table. Larsson placed his hand on the head of each cadet and said:
“Accepting your promises and recognizing that God has called, ordained, and empowered you to be a minister of Christ and of His Gospel, I commission you an officer of the Salvation Army with rank of Captain.”
Commissioner Freda Larsson offered a prayer of dedication.
Larsson then said: “We Salvationists can’t stay solemn very long—let’s greet the new Captains.” The audience applauded and, as an act of acceptance, the session stood and sang John Gowans’ words with Larsson’s own melody, I’ll not turn back—whatever it may cost—I’ll help you love and save the lost.
In remarks, Larsson stated: “God’s message for us is visible on the platform. We human beings are helplessly self-absorbed, but God redesigns us—when we take up His cross. We do not lose a life, we find fulfillment in life. Christians who take a step of faith will find grace in the Lord.” He then invited the Bridgebuilders to meet their parents and friends at the altar to pray together as they faced the challenges of the future. He asked any who wished to consider a commitment to Christ to come and pray as well.
Following a time of prayer, Major Paul Seiler led the congregation in a closing song and Lt. Colonel Carolyn Peacock pronounced the benediction.