Friends of Christ complete training
Commencement held in Pasadena
By Robert Docter
With General Linda Bond, territorial leadership, family and well over 2,000 friends in attendance, 41 cadets of the Friends of Christ Session celebrated graduation from Crestmont’s College for Officer Training in commencement services June 8 at The Gathering.
Following a musical prelude by the Western Territorial Band, conducted by Bandmaster Neil Smith, the Friends of Christ marched into the worship center. Joining members of the Proclaimers of Christ Session, the more than 100 cadets presented the graduating cadets’ session song, “Friends of Christ,” with lyrics by Lt. Col. Diane O’Brien and music by Bandmaster Ralph Pearce.
Major Brian Jones, director of curriculum, prayed for the cadets, and William B. Flinn, chair of the Crestmont Council, offered words of greeting to the audience and cadets. Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs, territorial president of women’s ministries, read the selected Scripture from Isaiah 51:1-6.
Commissioner James Knaggs, territorial commander, then introduced National Commander Commissioner William Roberts, who delivered the commencement address, “Hope for the Future from the Past.”
Roberts first advised the graduates that he was delivering a “commencement address—not a sermon.” He spoke as if he anticipated some difficult and possibly discouraging times ahead for the cadets, yet expressed strong belief in the power of hope to deal with the difficulties of the present, and told them that hope is discovered in the memories of the past.
“In the Scripture passage just read to us, the children of Israel were discouraged, almost without hope, exiled in a foreign land,” he said. “Nothing had gone right and they wondered, ‘has God kept his promise?’
“That kind of thinking,” Roberts said, “is a concern only to those who take God seriously.”
As Roberts said, God first got their attention. “Listen to me you who pursue righteousness and seek the Lord; look to the Rock from which you were cut and the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who gave you birth” (Is. 51:1-2 NIV).
“God insisted that that they remember their past, that it be their guide,” he said. “Those without a history are doomed to repeat it. As an antidote to their discouragement, the Lord advises his people to remember who they are—from where and what they had come.
“It is as though God is saying: ‘remember yesterday as you prepare for tomorrow,’” Roberts said. “Guard your memories; without memories we would have nothing on which to base our morality. Set up memorials along the way as the Israelites did. They are a way we make promises to the future.”
Roberts said God urged us to look at our origins. “These are lessons of the past. What have you learned from them?,” he asked. “Lessons of the past only have meaning as they are remembered. What have you learned about yourself? Perhaps you have learned that God will take the wilderness of your making and replace it with the garden of his making, and remember that absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (Rom. 8:39 MSG).
“You have learned your lessons well,” Roberts said. “Now, remember them tomorrow.”
The cadet chorus sang Fanny Crosby’s memorable hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” before Major Timothy Foley, training principal, commended the graduating session. With Jones, Foley presented academic degrees and certificates to the graduating Friends of Christ.
Speaking for the session, Cadet Allison Struck talked about the joy of being Christ’s friend, and of the power of group cohesiveness that develops when people from different walks of life come together to form a common bond with each individual fulfilling multiple roles as teacher, learner and group member.
Struck spoke on the multitude of lessons learned over the course of her training, including the budgeting, doctrine, individual growth, and being accountable.
“The most profound lesson is about relationships; the success of our ministries is directly proportional to the strength of our personal relationship with God,” Struck said. “Now, after 668 days, we sit before you today, sharing a calling, sharing some history, sharing our education, and sharing some memories. Most importantly, we share a commitment to win the world for Jesus as Friends of Christ.”
Foley led the assemblage in the song “Fairest Lord Jesus” and Captain Eugene Jo offered the benediction.