Western Territory’s Messengers of Grace Session acknowledged at annual Welcome Banquet
By Karen Gleason –
The Western Territory’s Messengers of Grace Session of Cadets (2019–2021) were greeted by the second-year Messengers of the Kingdom Session and by territorial and divisional leaders at the Welcome Banquet Sept. 6 at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Training Principal Major Brian Saunders set the tone for the evening with his opening remarks. “[This is] a night that honors God for the grace he’s bestowed on each of us.”
Saunders acknowledged the leaders present including Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder and Territorial President of Women’s Ministries and Crestmont Campus Administrator Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder. He acknowledged Territorial Youth Secretary Major Bob Louangamath and Territorial Candidates’ Secretary Captain Joanne Louangamath for their work with the cadets.
Major Cathi Boyd, Director of Cadet Services, gave the invocation, thanking God for the new cadets.
After the meal, Saunders welcomed the Future Officers Fellowship delegates. “This campus is a very special place, he said. “You can listen to the voice of God here.”
Following the introduction of the new cadets by their Divisional Commanders, Cadet Amy Lewis, Messengers of the Kingdom Session President, welcomed them. She said they may feel overwhelmed by the number of “welcomes” they’ve received since arriving at Crestmont, but that each one is sincere.
She quoted from Acts 20:24: my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. The two sessions will work together to achieve that, she said.
“Together we will experience spiritual formation and develop the skills needed to carry the good news of God’s grace to all people.”
Cadet Amber Herzog responded, representing the Messengers of Grace. Acknowledging her session mates’ call to officership, she noted that each of them is called specifically to be a messenger of grace—”called to action, to show the same grace we received to others.” They will use their unique gifts in their service to others, she said, referring to 1 Peter 10: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
After the Cadet Chorus sang “Thine is the Kingdom” (arr. Glenn Welch), led by Matt Woods, Jolene K. Hodder asked the new cadets to remain standing while she prayed over them, asking God to bless them. “They stand ready to be trained for you, for your kingdom,” she prayed. “They are vessels who carry a priceless treasure—the life-giving Good News. May they share that same grace when they minister to others.”
Beginning his message, Kenneth G. Hodder proclaimed, “I am an optimist.” This is despite the developing worldview of “scientism”—the belief that the only truth is scientific truth. Christians, however, believe differently.
“Truth as we understand it is more than scientific truth,” he said, noting that science can’t solve many basic human problems, such as envy, greed or despair.
“We are living in an unforgiving society; there is no room for redemption,” he said. “People feel they’re not measuring up. That’s not how God sees us, and he proves it by offering grace. Those who know Jesus Christ know he still has power today to do things science never will—that’s the power of grace. Deep in the heart of someone who’s experienced grace is the sense that everything is alright.”
He concluded, telling the cadets that the world desperately needs the gospel—the message of God’s love and his redemptive grace—that they will offer.
The banquet concluded with everyone singing “O What a Wonderful, Wonderful Day,” led my Assistant Training Principal Major Nigel Cross. Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley brought the benediction, asking God to fill everyone present with his Spirit that all may be messengers of grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).
The Messengers of Grace:
Cadets Jeffrey & Kristin Boyd – Intermountain
Cadet Charles Copeland – Del Oro
Cadet Michele Dell’Olio – Southwest
Cadet Matilde Esparza – California South
Cadet Carl Esquivel – California South
Cadet Andrielli Garcia dos Santos – Brazil Territory
Cadets Amber & Johnathan Herzog – Northwest
Cadet Melissa McQuade – Cascade
Cadet Nayeli Mercado – California South
Cadet John Mercer – Northwest
Cadet Christopher Rockwell – Golden State
Cadet Adrianne Sherman – Northwest