Commissioning: Messengers of Compassion receive first appointments

A celebratory mood filled the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon, as Salvationists and friends of the Western Territory gathered for the service of appointments of the lieutenants of the Messengers of Compassion Session.

Following a performance of “Children’s Praise” by a massed singing company, the crowd first welcomed Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder to the stage, before this year’s Service Corps teams and Long Service Order recipients marched in.

Honoring those who have come before, a parade of previous session flags, from 1924-2014, preceded the entrance of the College for Officer Training Principal Major Brian Saunders and the now second-year Messengers of the Kingdom Session. The newly commissioned Messengers of Compassion then marched in, each draped in a red session sash.

Surround the City led the congregation in the hymn, “O, For A Thousand Tongues to Sing” and Orange County Coordinator Captain Nesan Kistan gave a word of prayer, drawing from the book of Ruth.

Recognitions and awards

There was also a presentation of Divine Servant Awards, in honor of corps officers and others, who by their conduct and leadership, best exemplify what it means to be a servant in the name of Jesus Christ.

This year’s recipients included: Captains Jose and Marina Martinez, Corps Officers of Pueblo (Colorado) Corps; Captains Jennifer and Paul Swain of the Seattle Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC); Major Debi Shrum, Corps Officer of the Turlock (California) Corps and Jennie Ing, recently retired as Secretary to the Divisional Commander, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division.

Messengers of Compassion  

The lieutenants, with the cadet chorus, sang their session song, “Nothing to Offer But Christ” by Len Ballantine, under the direction of Territorial Music Education Specialist Matt Woods before Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley introduced the session speaker, Lt. Lusero Vargas.

For her speech, Messengers of Compassion Session Speaker Vargas pulled from the session verse Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“We are the beneficiaries of the gift of forgiveness, compassion and kindness from Jesus. It is by his grace that we stand before you today as the Messengers of Compassion. Not because of anything we have accomplished, but rather because of the compassion of Christ which has been lavished on us every day by people just like you,” Vargas said. “Jesus is the catalyst of compassion which has made all of us who we are today. We are ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Before leaving the podium, Vargas looked at the Hodders and said, “So, commissioners, send us on our way.”

Hodder’s charge to the lieutenants

Beginning his charge to the lieutenants, Hodder turned to a tradition from the early days of The Salvation Army, in which Salvationists would shout out affirmations of praise as a means of which to encourage one another to remember the fact we are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Fire a volley!” he yelled, with the audience responding, “Amen!”

“Fire a broadside!”


“And another one!”

“Praise the Lord.”

For those unfamiliar with the tradition, Hodder explained: “They would cried out their praises to God because they knew that the cries of the world outside would overwhelm them if they did not. When we cry out praises to God, we bring honor and glory to him.”

Hodder then reminded all in attendance of the importance of joining in the fight for good.

“You and I have a responsibility to do more than simply come as congregation members … you and I need to get involved with what is happening,” Hodder said. “You and I need to take action if we are going to answer the cries of the world, because believe me, the cries of the world are out there and they are just as intense today as they were in the early days of The Salvation Army.”

To illustrate this, Hodder recognized officers on homeland furlough who are “answering those cries around the world” in places, including the Czech Republic, Korea, Kuwait and Latvia.

He then appointed the Messengers of Compassion to their first appointments as Salvation Army officers. After presenting the lieutenants with their appointments, Hodder launched another call and response by yelling, “Fire a volley!”

Colonel Douglas Riley led the congregation in singing the Founder’s song, “O Boundless Salvation,” before Cascade Divisional Commander Major Nancy Dihle offered a prayer and led a choral benediction.

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