Visionaries receive enthusiastic welcome
by Robert Docter –
COMMISSIONER BILL LUTTRELL presents the Visionaries session flag to Cadet Jonathan Harvey during the welcome of cadets at the Tustin Ranch Corps.
“It is good that God calls people to be visionaries.”
So spoke Lt. Colonel Donald Bell, territorial chief secretary, in greeting the flag-waving, hand-clapping, hallelujah-shouting Salvationists in the Tustin Ranch Corps. The 600-plus enthusiasts had assembled to welcome Visionaries and spoke their pleasure in seeing 16 self-sacrificing young men and women begin a course of study leading to Salvation Army officership.
Opening with moments of somber silence in loving remembrance of those whose lives were taken from us in terrorist attacks exactly three year earlier, the audience was led in prayer in three languages—reminding all of the multiculturalism of this great nation.
Following congregational singing of the plaintive prayer Be Thou My Vision, the Visionaries Session of cadets
marched forward, saluting the territorial commander.
Commissioner Bill Luttrell, territorial commander, warmly offered his greetings and then publicly installed Majors Ralph and Ivy Hood as territorial personnel secretary and corps ministries and spiritual formation secretary; Majors Paul and Carol Seiler as So. California divisional commander and director of women’s ministries/divisional strategic initiative coordinator; and Majors Donald and Arvilla Hostetler as principal of the College for Officer Training and campus services director.
Commissioner Gwen Luttrell then invoked God’s inspiration and blessing and sought for these newly installed leaders “God’s wisdom and compass” as they approached their duties.
Seiler reminded all of us of our number one priority by quoting from Jesus’ words to the newly appointed 12 disciples found in Matthew 10. From The Message he read: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment.”
Seiler continued with his understanding of the role of divisional headquarters as “partners” in bringing the Kingdom of God to the neighborhood. (The full text of his remarks will appear in the coming edition of New Frontier.)
Major Nancy Davis, candidates’ and recruitment secretary, formally presented the session to territorial leadership, and the session received its flag. Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock, Crestmont College president and territorial secretary for leadership development, offered prayer of dedication, and the session was joined by the Preparers of the Way for the initial performance of their session song Catch the Vision with words by Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien and music by Duncan Sutton.
The Western Youth Institute Gospel Choir, led by Mark Freeman, revealed the contemporary tempos of the 21st century with exciting, upbeat music. Featuring the artistry of Cuso Sinfanua of Everett Wash., Carl Noa of the Leeward Corps in Hawaii, and Stacey Zebedee of Redlands, Calif., the group presented He Will Never Stop Loving You and I’ll Tell It. The audience resonated strongly to their enthusiasm.
The Western Music Institute provided the band for the evening. Led by Bandmaster Ivor Bosanko they presented a number of items prior to the service and William Himes beautiful Celebration of Gospel Songs during the meeting.
Lt. Colonel Ray Moulton presented the Territorial Youth Award to Jennie Ontisuka of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division as the “outstanding example of your generation” in her role in the Leeward Corp helping lead, develop and organize multiple youth programs.
New Lieutenants recognized
Major Ralph Hood asked the audience to recognize nine recently appointed lieutenants serving in important leadership roles in ministry across the territory. Speaking for the group, Lt. Dana Libby, Everett corps officer, noted that he, like the others, have come to ministry from varied occupations and careers late in life. The service provides new meaning for us, he said as he credited the “transforming power of God in people’s lives.”
Catching the vision from your beliefs
Just prior to a message from the territorial commander, the Visionairies presented a selection of scripture verses in song and spoken verse along with pictorial illustrations of the kinds of commitments needed and made by Salvationistis.
Speaking informally, Luttrell quickly related to each person: “We are a blessed people tonight—soldiers, officers, employees, young, old, representing diverse cultures marching together to the beat of God’s drum. Who could not be excited when we see young people who have caught visions—when we hear the music of heaven so beautifully presented throughout the evening—when we observe individuals, some youthful, some more mature, called to serve their Lord late in life.
“We live in a world on fire, and we minister to those close to the flame, he said. We must seek our identity and our individual roles in having and achieving the vision God has given us. It is in God that we experience the context of faith and it is in him that we find our identity and our being.”
“Paul reminds us,” he continued, “that as we deal with our own struggles and difficulties we bear witness to the joy of spiritual growth within us that affords us opportunities to catch new visions—and these visions we seek to fulfill. We marvel at how God’s grace remains firm and consistent.” He illustrated this with passages from Hebrews when great men and women of faith found their identity in God himself and in his vision for the world.
“I challenge you to take hold of what you believe and see that as your vision,” he stated firmly as he moved to contemporary examples of events and lives illustrating God at work in us.
“Do you believe we could multiply the love of God in this world?” he asked pointedly.
“Tonight, the vision of God has to live vibrantly in each of our lives. We must believe he is all-powerful—that he can help us handle the daily difficulties of our lives. Take hold of what you believe. Proclaim it as a vision of God for your world. Embrace the mission of the Army—simply put by John Gowans, ‘to save souls, make saints, and serve a suffering humanity.’ We must tell of Jesus’ love, we must encourage those ‘saints’ so evident in the Army, and we must reach out to someone suffering for they are all around us.
God is at work with his vision for us in the world today.
Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien then stepped forward to sing the beautiful chorus Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.
A time of prayer and benediction
A sweet, pensive, searching spirit moved through the congregation as they examined visions emerging from their own belief systems, and the altars were lined with seekers.
Lt. Colonel Alicia Burger led the congregation in the final song—Be thou my vision and Lt. Colonel Debi Bell pronounced the benediction.