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2012 Future Officers’ Fellowship Retreat

Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien examines Cadet Judah Young’s tattoos during the Future Officers’ Fellowship Retreat at Crestmont. Photo by Bob Louangamath

By Joanne Louangamath, Captain

The weekend of Feb. 10-12, 182 delegates from across the Western Territory gathered at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont for the annual Future Officers’ Fellowship retreat. Territorial candidates’ and recruitment secretaries Majors John and Pamilla Brackenbury led a weekend that inspired each attendee to be “marked” with the characteristics of Christ.

During the Friday evening keynote session, Cadet Joy Groenleer (Proclaimers of the Resurrection Session president) spoke about her call to officership. Although she envisioned spending her life on the Hawaiian Islands, God’s vision for her was greater.

Lt. Colonels Doug and Diane O’Brien filled the chapel with laughter and tears as they shared their message on what it meant to be “marked” with love.  The message of love resonated throughout the weekend.

Prospective candidate Naomi Kuhlman of the Sierra del Mar Division shared her testimony about how God marked her life saying, “Today I see what was always right in front of me—the love that God gives so freely—the love I’ve searched for my whole life.”

Recently commissioned lieutenants Sean and Bonita Kelsey, corps officers of the Cathedral City (Calif.) Corps, shared their experience at Crestmont and as new officers in the field. Bonita Kelsey said, “I don’t think I can say it enough, but the reason that I am here today is because of Jesus—his death and resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to get up here and talk to you. My insecurities and weaknesses I crucify daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes by the minute, because this is what God calls us to do.”

On Saturday the delegates attended classes on how to study the Bible, preparing for the pulpit, developing good study habits and developing research skills as well as touring the campus and getting to know the first-year cadets. Everyone enjoyed an evening of intrigue and laughter as delegates dressed up and took part in a murder mystery dinner titled “Hollywood Confidential.”

Sunday morning the delegates spent time in prayer, lifting up praises and petitions. Accepted candidates Stephen

and Briana Milner of the Del Oro Division shared their journey in accepting the call to officership. They expressed that running from God’s call was exhausting, but an overwhelming peace came when they accepted it. The women’s ensemble, under the direction of Diane O’Brien, sang “Nothing but Thy Blood.”

Commissioner James Knaggs shared his heart as he said, “God has called us to serve him. We make a commitment to serve him, and then it becomes our character; it becomes who we are. There really is no separation—it comes from a relationship with God.” He further added, “Even if you are called to officership it doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t made the commitment. And can I say, the commitment means very little until it materializes in your character.”

Each attendee returned home with a renewed vigor for ministry and commitment in service to God. The cabinet, territorial and divisional leaders, college staff and cadets shared the “mark” of love that was definitely felt and was undeniably infectious. The calling to serve in the ministry of The Salvation Army is immeasurable as it encompasses so much more than we can ever expect.

Sean Kelsey left us with this challenge: “Take hold of that call. A call is an invitation. The question is what are we going to do with the invitation that God is giving us?”

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