Hostetler commends session

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Major Donald Hostetler, training principal of the College for Officer Training at Crestmont, delivered the following speech at the commissioning and ordination service.


Commissioner Swyers, I commend to you the Visionaries Session of cadets for commissioning as officers in The Salvation Army and for ordination as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This session has come through tumultuous experiences to arrive at this moment of significance, including changes in Territorial leadership, turnover in College for Officer Training staff and the resignation of one fourth of their session. But these behind you, Commissioner, are those who have kept their eye on the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus— the calling to be officers in The Salvation Army.

The Visionaries have a vision for mission. They recognize that God did not call them to be cadets, but to be officers. Their focus has been upon the ministry that awaits them as officers. That vision has motivated their preparation for service as officers.

More than half of the Visionaries began their life journey toward this moment of significance from birthplaces outside of the United States: England, Zimbabwe, Argentina, El Salvador and Mexico. They have come from a variety of family backgrounds— some from the homes of Army soldiers and officers; others came to the Army as teens or adults. They brought 10 children with them to Training…and will soon add two to that number. Two weeks ago, it was my privilege to enroll one of those children as a junior soldier and another as a senior soldier.
Throughout their training, the Visionaries have kept their eyes on the prize, their vision for mission. During their first year of training, they were among brigades that ministered in Arizona, Wyoming and Oregon. In summer assignments, they ministered in Washington, California, Alaska and Colorado. They spent their spring campaign of their second year preaching the gospel in word and deed in Panama—and, not only were souls won for the Kingdom of God, but their vision for mission expanded. That expanded vision had practical impact, as record amounts were raised by their small session for World Services.

But remember, the Training College is not the destination. For nearly two years, the lives of these called, committed, covenanted people of God have been spent in preparation for the fulfillment of the mission call, a fulfillment which begins its realization with their commissioning and ordination today. Their preparation has included a rigorous, demanding academic regimen composed of Bible, theology, ministry, behavioral sciences, and business studies. It has included extensive field training for the development of practical ministry skills, an enterprise which relies heavily upon the participation of corps officers throughout the territory and especially the Southern California Division. We thank all who partner with us in that training endeavor. And the Visionaries’ training has included intentional investment in spiritual formation.

All of this has been done with a vision for mission. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: “…not that I have already obtained this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” [Phil 3:12 & 14]

So I say to the Visionaries, “keep your eye on that prize and press on toward that goal.”
And to you, Commissioner Swyers, I commend this dedicated, diligent cadre of cadets for you to ordain to ministry and commission as officers. I commend to you the Visionaries Session of cadets.

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