Commissioning – more than a busy weekend

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Training principal considers the significance of “commissioning.”

by Steve Smith, Major –

Not long after arriving in my new appointment as principal of the College for Officer Training at Crestmont, I was asked for a quote on the subject of commissioning. As with many requests, I only had a short time to come up with a brief statement that would sum up my feelings on the matter. After struggling a bit, I came up with this: “Commissioning is not for the purpose of celebrating the end of two years of training but it is the starting point for a lifetime of service.”

Now is my opportunity to elaborate a bit on this statement. Perhaps in many people’s minds “commissioning” has become the name for a weekend of activities every June. Some of these events do celebrate the completion of two years of concentrated work. An example is the Commencement Service, which honors cadets for the completion of an associate’s degree and for finishing the standard course of study required for officership.

My statement, however, does not refer to commencement or any other part of the weekend except the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. The commissioning of a Salvation Army officer is the beginning of a lifetime of service. In commissioning an officer, The Salvation Army gives an individual the right and privilege to carry out the purposes of the organization. It is a sacred trust that the Army bestows so that God’s Word can be spread throughout the world through the unique ministry that we all enjoy. The following excerpt from the Commissioning and Ordination Ceremony sums up this trust as the soon to be officers promise to:” Lead all persons to their only Savior. And for his sake care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends.”

When I look back at my own commissioning, I marvel at the significance of that one point in time in my life. By granting me a commission, The Salvation Army said that they trusted me to carry out the mission of the Army. What a responsibility, and what a blessing!

This is probably why over the years this weekend in June has come to be known as “commissioning.”

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