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Passing the mantle

CFOT training principal explores the significance of the college’s Mantle Service.

By Tim Foley, Major

The campus of the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont is abuzz this time of year. With the fast-approaching conclusion of the academic season of theological and pragmatic education, the college is preparing for the commissioning of the Friends of Christ Session at The Gathering in June.

CFOT’s 22-month program prepares individuals who are called by God to serve as officers in The Salvation Army. The training focuses on equipping these men and women spiritually, emotionally and mentally for the rigors of life ahead as officers.

The Mantle Service, a private ceremony, occurs the day after both sessions of cadets complete their studies. The CFOT staff officers are introduced, and then as the cadets’ names are called, the officers line up in front of the cadets according to the year of their commissioning. This company of the faithful stands before their students as a reminder of their commitment to officership.

The names of each second-year cadet are then announced. Individually, they step forward and receive a new tunic with lieutenant’s trim. Training leaders place a long red ribbon with a lieutenant’s star—the mantle—around their necks and help them into their new jacket. The mantle drapes across the new tunic.

The ceremony allows second-year cadets to symbolically pass from the studying stage into their future lives as servants of God. Later that week, the college conducts a covenant ceremony with the Territorial Commander, and then the actual commissioning service seals the deal.

After the second-year cadets are mantled, it’s their turn to pass the mantle to the first-year cadets. They place a long blue ribbon with second-year cadet bars around the neck of their “buddies,” those students assigned to them for help during the first days of orientation.

I think about this concept of passing the mantle often as I age and see my own retirement on the horizon, albeit still a long way off. Who is going to carry on this work when I am gone? Who is going to bring the message of the gospel to succeeding generations? I get a glimpse of this each day while on campus.

We have seen a great moving of God’s Spirit with the arising of a new generation of people who are answering the call of God to become officers. They are called to take up the mantle of leadership. I am assuring officers and friends that The Salvation Army is in good hands as we move toward the future. The torch is being passed; the mantle is being taken up.

God will continue to do his work through dedicated men and women who are assuming the role of leadership, committed to spreading the message of the gospel and the saving work of Jesus Christ for decades to come.

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