Honoring the past–preparing for the future

CFOT to rename two buildings at Crestmont on Commissioning weekend.

by Jennifer Perine, Captain –

Lt. Colonels Hazel and Eugene Rice

This year, amidst the excitement of The Salvation Army’s commissioning weekend, another noteworthy event will be the naming of two buildings on the Crestmont campus in honor of past Western Territory leaders—Commissioner Adam Gifford and Lt. Colonels Eugene and Hazel Rice.

The College for Officer Training (CFOT) not only conducts commencement exercises, marking the beginning of a new path in life for the graduating cadets, but also presents the graduated cadets to the territory for commissioning as Salvation Army officers.

Officership requires a special calling. When God chooses and calls individuals to be officers, The Salvation Army assumes the responsibility of preparing them to undertake this task. CFOT, an accredited two-year college, schools and trains cadets in theology, communications, business, applied ministries and general education. When they complete their studies, cadets receive an AA degree and are commissioned as Salvation Army officers.

It hasn’t always been this way. In the Army’s early days, those with the calling received minimal training and were sent to take on the work in many locations. The first territorial commander of the Western Territory, Commissioner Adam Gifford, was one such individual. Gifford offered himself as an officer in 1884, and he immediately began to serve in several appointments in his home state of Pennsylvania. In 1888 Gifford was sent west to start the work in Colorado.

For many years Gifford moved back and forth between the west and what is now the Central Territory. In 1920 he was appointed territorial commander of the newly formed Western Territory with the rank of lt. commissioner. Gifford, who became a full commissioner in 1926, remained the territorial commander for 11 years until his promotion to Glory in 1931. He saw the Army through some turbulent times in those early days, including two groups splintering off from The Salvation Army, yet he was able to solidify the Army as an entity in the west.

This year CFOT will honor Gifford and his pioneering spirit by naming the campus’s education building the “Adam Gifford Education Building.” Additionally, the campus chapel will be named the “Eugene and Hazel Rice Chapel,” in honor of Lt. Colonels Eugene and Hazel Rice.

Lt. Colonels Rice both trained in the Western Territory in San Francisco. When Captain Hazel Stevens was appointed to the training school, she met recently commissioned Probationary Lieutenant Gene Rice. The two wed in 1942 and remained on the training school staff until 1943 when they went to their first corps appointment. They then served in many divisional headquarters positions before returning to the training college as training principal and campus services director. The Rices concluded active officership as the territorial evangelists. They were known for their pastoral hearts, thus the naming of the chapel is a fitting tribute to these valiant soldiers of Christ.

As Salvationists we are all called to spread the gospel and endeavor to win others for Christ. From among our ranks God further calls some to be our leaders to guide us in this endeavor—those we call officers. As we gather together for Commissioning 2010, we will celebrate the commissioning of 27 new officers who will continue to lead our Army into the future.

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