‘God has a hope’
Messengers of Light become lieutenants in morning service
By Karen Gleason –
In the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Western Territorial Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley welcomed attendees June 12 to the commissioning and ordination of the Messengers of Light–a solemn service of commitment during which the cadets transition to The Salvation Army’s newest lieutenants.
Riley set the tone for the service, instructing the congregation to maintain an attitude of prayer, postponing their cheers for the more festive Service of Appointments.
The session includes 48 cadets from various ethnicities, educational backgrounds and ages. Thirty-seven are first generation Salvationists, two are fifth generation and two are seventh generation Salvationists. Educationally they are degreed in various subjects from library science to theology. Four are ex-service personnel. Their average age is 34 and they represent seven different ethnicities.
Colonel Colleen Riley, territorial secretary for women’s ministries, prayed for both the cadets and for everyone present.
“Anoint the Messengers of Light with your love, grace, mercy and peace as they take this next step in their journey with you,” Riley prayed. “And for everyone here, you’ve called each of us to be your precious child. May we be open to your outstretched arms of love.”
One by one, the Messengers of Light ascended the stage behind session flagbearer, Cadet Timothy Witcher, as the Western Territory Staff Band (WTSB) played “All There is of Me.”
College for Officer Training (CFOT) Principal Major Brian Saunders acknowledged the cadets. “Being a messenger is not a particularly glamorous job,” he said. “They’re the couriers, doing the hard work in between the sender and the receiver…It’s never about the messenger; it’s always about the message. And perhaps that’s as it should be–especially when it’s God’s Message.”
Saunders cited the session verse, 1 John 1:5: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (NIV).
Turning to speak directly to the cadets, he said, “My prayer is that you won’t just share the light, but you’ll be the light. May God’s light shine in your hearts just as you reflect it to others.”
The cadets delivered The Salvation Army doctrines and their affirmation of faith to Doug Riley and then individually received their certifications of ordination from territorial leaders Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs, shaking their hands and saluting them. The new lieutenants moved to the mercy seat, and experienced officers–members of the Territorial Executive Council–came forward to pray with them.
Carolyn Knaggs gave a prayer of dedication. “I pray that your spirit, Lord, will stir them to great things in your name.”
Lt. LeeVale Butler testified to the audience that “living in the light wasn’t always the case for me.” He gave God the credit for leading him out of darkness and guiding him on the path to Salvation Army officership. In 2005, after three years of sobriety, he completed substance abuse training and certification. This led to an internship at the Riverside County Adult Rehabilitation Center and eventually to employment. During this time he learned that The Salvation Army was a church, and although he continued to attend his own church, his interest in the Army grew. Finally, in 2014, he and his wife arrived at CFOT as cadets.
“What does it mean to be a Messenger of Light?” he said. “ I get to be a light to the world. It means I have the opportunity to bring hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and Jesus to the lost. I won’t just be a light, I’ll be a Messenger of Light.”
Butler referred to 1 Peter 2:9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (NASB).
Commissioner James Knaggs gave the message based on Colossians 1, noting the relevance of the biblical epistles to Christians today.
“What is God’s mystery?” Knaggs said. “Even now it’s revealed. It’s Christ in you…He wants you to know–you are his hope. Not you alone; we don’t have the strength…but Christ in you! It’s a calling by God for all of us, marked by God’s authority and defined by a relationship with God. It’s wonderful!
“God’s hope for the ages is Christ in you,” Knaggs said. “Don’t you know, loved ones, you’re the hope of glory.”
Knagg began calling the names of accepted candidates for officership, asking them to stand.
“These are special people, but they are regular people, too,” he said. “They are the hope of glory. Who else will come to the altar to affirm their calling? If the world is going to find hope, it’s got to find it through you and me.”
A time of response followed, before Knaggs led the closing song, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain.” Saunders closed the service with a choral benediction.
The WTSB (Bandmaster Neil Smith), Western Territory Staff Songsters (Songster Leader Barbara Allen) and guest soloist Silvie Paladino provided music during the service. Erin Riesebieter led the Cadet Chorus in the song, “Giver of Light” (Isobel Robinson/Ian Robinson).