Congress Features CFOT Commencement

by Major Doug O’Brien –

“Back where I come from we have universities–seats of great learning–where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out they think deep thoughts–and with no more brains than you have! But they have one thing you haven’t got –a diploma.”

The Wizard of Oz

The Great Victory Congress is all about spiritual achievement. But it also includes an academic celebration–the Commencement exercises for the Messengers of God’s Love!

No one would become a cadet just to earn an Associate of Arts in Ministries degree from The Salvation Army. The training program is too long, too hard and too narrowly focused for all but the most dedicated Salvationist. But almost every lieutenant wants to leave the college with that recognition of achievement.

No other Salvation Army training college in the world can offer an accredited degree like the one conferred by the USA Western Territory. Of course, some believe that the emphasis on degrees is misplaced; the college should be a battle school, not an ivory tower of academia. Moreover, in many cases the methods and program of other training colleges would simply not meet the requirements of a degree program.

So why offer a degree? On a professional level, western leaders feel the A. A. degree authenticates ministry skills in terms a highly competitive world can understand. The degree is both an incentive to continued education and a jump-start to any degree pursued in the future. Other colleges know that certain reliable standards were used in the education and training of our cadets because the college is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Everything about the college has been reviewed and certified – instructor qualifications, the quality of the library and supporting technology, class hours, administration and management, and the college’s mission and goals.

On a personal level, the boost to self-esteem and confidence which a degree brings is sometimes enough to help an officer over tough times and to give him or her confidence for the future.

Not every cadet who is commissioned will receive a degree. Standards are rigorous, and the qualifications for officership are not always identical to those which lead to a degree. Unlike most academic institutions which allow more time to complete their degrees and which permit courses to be repeated, cadets have only the time frame of the two-year training program and, in most instances, have only one opportunity to complete a course successfully.

It is for these reasons that Commencement is so significant and is a part of the Great Victory Congress. This June, General and Mrs. Paul A. Rader and Commissioners Peter H. and Grace E. Chang will be supported during the Commencement program by the Training Principal, Major Terry W. Griffin, and the cadets, who will provide special music.

The degrees will be presented at 10:30 a.m., on Friday, June 6, 1997, at Rolling Hills Covenant Church, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Everyone is invited!

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