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Kelly Nolan speaks for session

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Commissioning 2003

Captain Kelly Nolan gave the following address during Commencement ceremonies on Friday.

More Than Just Graduates

When I first heard that I was selected to speak to you this morning as a representative of the Believers Session, I thought it was a rather odd selection. You see, I am not a typical cadet. First of all, you probably noticed that I am chronologically endowed (that’s just a fancy way of saying I’m old). Secondly, I came to the training college with a background in science rather than liberal arts. In addition, none of my relatives have ever been in the Army, and I only had a few years of experience in a single, very small corps that didn’t even have a brass band—not your typical cadet material.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there really is no such thing as a “typical cadet” any more. Just look at us—we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Some are old enough to be my brothers and sisters; some are young enough to be my children. We came here from different cultures and from all walks of life, with previous educations ranging from high school diplomas to Master’s degrees. We span the spectrum from first-generation Salvationists to multigenerational officers’ kids. However, in spite of all our differences, we have this in common—we are more than just an assortment of cadets…we are Believers! We believe that we can make a difference in people’s lives.

We have learned to obtain many truths from many books, but more importantly, we have learned to proclaim THE Truth found in THE Book—the Holy Bible.

Our homework assignments have enforced our learning, but more importantly, our ministry assignments have reinforced our yearning—our heartfelt longing to save souls, to grow saints, and to serve suffering humanity in Jesus’ name.

So you see, we are more than just students, we are Believers. That’s why we boldly claim that God can use us to change the world—not because of what we know but because of Who we know.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Education is important. A college degree has become increasingly necessary for Salvation Army officers. In our complex world of computerization, regulation and litigation, the business of ministry requires us to be proficient. In our culture of professionalism and specialization, the world expects us to be credentialed. If we expect our donors, Advisory Board members, and civic leaders to take us seriously, we must take our own education seriously as well.

The Salvation Army as a whole places great importance on the education and continuing education of its officers and staff. The U.S. Western Territory, under the inspired leadership of our own Commissioner Linda Bond, is intent on producing educated, equipped, and energized “blood and fire” officers. Crestmont College has been particularly active in raising the educational bar, as evidenced by the move toward additional accreditation and expansion of “lifelong learning” opportunities. I believe these are all positive steps toward keeping the Army relevant and effective in our changing world.

I don’t know how this increased emphasis on higher education is going to play itself out in the future. I can only speak from the two years of my own experience here at the School for Officer Training. In my opinion, the officers and staff have been excellent, not only professionally, but personally as well. The result is sitting here before you today—the best session of cadets ever to come out of Crestmont College. And that’s because, we are more than just graduates—we are Believers!

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