Larsson installs Swyers

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by Robert Docter – 

GENERAL JOHN LARSSON, assisted by Commissioner Freda Larsson, installs Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers as Western territorial leaders. The Swyers’ sons, Philip and David, were flag bearers.

The Army’s international leaders, General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson, installed Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers as USA Western territorial commander and territorial president of women’s services respectively on Sunday, Jan-uary 2, 2005 before a capacity audience in the Pasadena Tabernacle. Their two sons, Philip and David, both Salvation Army captains, held the flags for the ceremony.

Larsson informed the Swyers: “You’re coming to an exciting Territory here.” Then, to the audience he said: “This couple has a true heart for the people. They come with a whole heart.”

Words at an installation

In installing the couple, Larsson charged them to “preach the word of truth and stand by its principles; to stand by the Army flag and everything it represents; and to raise up officer candidates to perpetuate and enlarge the ministry.” He then asked them a number of pointed questions: “Will you uphold the Bible as the only divine rule of Christian faith and practice? Will you make the mercy seat the focus of your ministry? Will you pledge to maintain the integrity of The Salvation Army’s commitment to salvation and sanctification? Will you accept responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the saved and the unsaved in the name of Jesus Christ? Will you minister to the ministers in providing pastoral care for the officers and local officers? Will you maintain the internal discipline of the Army? Will you provide opportunity to all the people of God to use their spiritual gifts and fulfill the ministry to which God has called them?”

Both of the Swyers responded to each question in the affirmative.

The General then asked Commissioner Freda Larsson to seal this covenant in prayer and invited the territory’s new leaders to pray at the mercy seat.

Responses by our new leaders

Following the period of prayer Commissioner Patricia Swyers responded and read from scripture. She began by saying how pleased she was now to be a Western officer. “It’s taken us a long time to get here, but we have finally arrived,” she said. “We have been blessed by God’s presence in our lives and have felt secure in the knowledge that he was in charge.”

She communicated a sense of genuine caring as she expressed appreciation for the work so many had done in assisting them in this transition and for the promise of prayers on their behalf expressed by so many. “It has been a joyful journey of Grace in our lives, and it has just begun here in the West. We have felt a deep consciousness of God’s presence in our lives, and we desire to live Christ and spread the fragrance of his will and joy to all we meet.”

The scripture selected came from Ephesians 2:1-10

Commissioner Philip Swyers presented a strong yet sensitive spirit in his remarks. Speaking with high energy and without notes he began: “It’s an honor to be here. This Army is not about appointments. It’s about serving God.

“I’d like to say a few things about me so that we can all work together shoulder to shoulder. I’m a born-again believer. Grace overwhelms my heart. I’m in his hands. I believe in the Word of God. I believe in The Salvation Army – its ministry and its mission. All that I want to do is to see a better Army. I did not come out here to our Territory to run your life or to be the master of the moment. I came here to work shoulder to shoulder with you, my fellow co-workers in Christ. I believe there are enough brains in this room to make right decisions.

There are no obstacles that scare me, for God is with us. As long as we keep our eyes focused on him and use common sense, he will bless us.

People have stood here before me and built a strong foundation, and it is our privilege – all of us – to walk on together and build a better Army.

A time to work

“I’m not going to try to re-invent the Army. We have studied and visioned it long enough – and now we’re going to work. Join with us and help make our Army better. All I want to do is my part. There isn’t a barrier in our territory that we can’t surmount if we do our part. There isn’t a joy in our territory that can’t be expanded if we do our part.

“We’ve had four territorial commanders in this territory in two and half years. I’m not going anywhere – but to serve you.

“What are we going to do in the future? We’re going to take the plan that has been talked over and prayed over, and now, all of us are going to work the plan. We’re going to keep our eyes focused on him, and when the problems seem great we’re going to find ourselves rich in his mercy. The riches of his grace will be all that we need.

“I thank God that you are here. May God bless this territory.

“There are three great truths in that second chapter of Ephesians – we are rich in his mercy – we are made by Christ – we are prepared for what God has for us to do because we are rich in his grace.

Words of greeting

Twelve year old Jeana Gleason, a young soldier of the Torrance corps, spoke words of welcome for the youth of the Territory. In a positive manner she emphasized that the most important element in developing Army youth is the quality of the modeling of youth leaders.

Nancy Anderson Metz of the San Diego Citadel corps spoke on behalf of soldiers, and with a greeting of “Howdy podners,” Major Steven Bradley offered a welcome on behalf of officers and emphasized “partnership” – co-workers together leading to the achievement of mission goals.

The Territorial Chief Secretary, Lt. Colonel Donald Bell, led the meeting. A video presentation explored multiple facets of Western programs and personalities. The Pasadena Tabernacle Band, the Tustin Ranch Songsters, and the Santa Ana Praise Team provided special music.

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