West graduates Messengers of the Gospel
Following two years of academic study at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont, Salvationists and friends gathered with territorial leaders Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder at the Pasadena Convention Center June 9 to witness the commencement of the 35 cadets of the Messengers of the Gospel Session.
Shoulders draped in yellow and red, the cadet chorus sang its song, “We’ve Got Good News” by Rob Little and Nicolas King, before a prayer by Major Pamilla Brackenbury, CFOT Director of Campus Services.
“It is up to each of us to make a difference in the lives of others—that is why we’re called Salvationists,” said William Flinn, O.F., chair of the Crestmont Council. “Nothing will happen in our personal or denominational growth by wishing somebody would do something. The Army is us…There are individuals currently waiting to benefit from your efforts. Be a leader that people want to follow…Be Army and do Army. It works.”
Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, read Matthew 14:22-33 before Captain Annalise Francis, CFOT Curriculum Officer, led attendees in singing “We are Witnesses for Jesus.”
Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder presented academic degrees and certificates to the cadets, including Cadet Cameo McQuade who spoke on behalf of her session.
“These past two years have been nothing short of a life-changing experience that has stretched us in every possible direction, stretching us to better equip us for the long voyage ahead,” McQuade said. “Our cadetship has been like the ocean, calm and still, rough and rigid, but in the end it was always beautiful, and we know that our future will be no different.”
In her commencement address, Colonel Colleen Riley, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries, urged the cadets to have faith, courage and belief.
“May I say to you, this is just the beginning. You will be sent to where God has prepared a place specifically for you,” she said. “Wherever that place is, don’t lose focus on the main thing: Jesus.”
Just as Peter had enough faith to walk on the water until he was distracted and afraid of the wind, Riley said, when those strong winds come, “the Bible doesn’t say just figure it out, but over and over it says to have faith. We have faith in a God who does the unbelievable.”
And just as Peter had the courage to step out of the boat, Riley said the cadets had courage to become officers of The Salvation Army. “It will take that same courage to remain in ministry,” she said. “You will need more courage in the days ahead than you might ever imagine, and that courage will come from your relationship with Jesus.”
Finally, she said, “believe in Jesus Christ who called you to be his messenger…Believe that he will give you just what you need, just when you need it.
“When your eyes are on him, you can take what you’ve learned and go into the far corners of the Western Territory and win the world for Jesus,” Riley said. “Messengers of the Gospel, keep your eyes on Jesus.”
Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley led the congregation in song before Major Brian Jones, CFOT Director of Curriculum, offered the closing benediction.