by Christin Davis
The Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif.—coined the “Carnegie Hall of the West” by Ella Fitzgerald—has hosted symphony orchestras, Bob Hope and Gene Kelly, but on Sept. 11, 2010, roughly 1,000 Salvationists gathered inside to welcome both the new session of cadets and new territorial leaders Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs.
The Western Territorial Band, led by Bandmaster Neil Smith, made use of the auditorium’s 37 gilded acoustical “clouds” that are suspended over the stage and audience to open the evening program with “Where Eagles Sing.” An accompanying video slideshow moved through the historical timeline of The Salvation Army.
On behalf of General Shaw Clifton, former national leaders Commissioners W. Todd and Carol Bassett, now retired, officially installed Commissioners Knaggs as territorial commander and territorial president of women’s ministries in the Western Territory, respectively. At one time, the Bassetts were soldiers of then Lieutenants Knaggs in the Eastern Territory.
Junior Soldier Isabel Fairclough, Corps Sergeant Major Sharon Docter, and Major Roy Wild welcomed the Knaggs on behalf of the territory’s young people, soldiers and officers, respectively.
“We expect to be amazed by what God does through you in the Western Territory,” Fairclough said.
“We sense that you are already one of us,” Docter said. “You know how to relate to people, and strike me as people who aren’t afraid of new things. You recognize the value in meeting people where they are and are the first commissioner that I have ‘friended’ on Facebook. You use new media as a way to communicate Christ in the form that people use today.”
Wild added, “You have taken on the role of our spiritual leaders. As you travel the territory and see the great things God is doing through these blood and fire officers, know that we too will be praying for you.”
The Knaggs vowed to: rely upon the Lord in this task; uphold the word of God in Christian practice; make every effort to help Salvationists keep the doctrine sacred; make the mercy seat the focus of ministry; and accept the spiritual well-being of the people.
“We solemnly charge you to preach the truth, stand by The Salvation Army flag and preserve what it means, raise up candidates for officership, minister to the ministers, maintain internal discipline, encourage spiritual self-denial, provide full opportunities to the people of God, and administer the work of the Army in this territory,” Commissioner Todd Bassett said. “May God grant you much grace and wisdom in leadership.” Bassett prayed for the Knaggs’ leadership—for strength, wisdom, zeal, compassion and courage to inspire others to serve God.
The General sent a message in writing, saying, “With complete joy and confidence I commend the new leaders to you. They have distinctive gifts of spiritual leadership. I charge them to be examples of holy living…to be fervent evangelists.”
As the crowd stood to applaud the incoming “Friends of Christ” session of cadets, Leslie Zimmerman marched onto the stage, tears streaming down her face.
Zimmerman—a graduate of the women’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Pasadena—enrolled as a soldier of The Salvation Army in June 2007 and immediately considered becoming an officer.
She is now one of 46 first-year cadets in 2010.
“Finally being at Crestmont is intense—I love it and it is hard,” Zimmerman said. “But I can feel myself being pushed to grow; it’s wonderful. I hope that I will be transformed into the woman that God wants me to be, and actively pass on his love.”
Majors John and Pamilla Brackenbury, responsible for candidate recruitment, introduced the new session, which arrived at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont three weeks ago, representing all 10 divisions and 29 corps in the West.
Cadet Jared Arnold accepted the flag for his session of cadets, who will be commissioned as officers in The Salvation Army in June 2012.
As a former Marine Corps soldier, Cadet Dustin Rowe testified that he previously avoided the “complications” of religion in his life. When he began attending the San Diego Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, however, he started to feel a change and realized his calling to Salvation Army officership.
Commissioner James Knaggs spoke on John 15:12-16, read by Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs.
“Soak it in and take advantage of these two years because we’ve got a job for you,” he told the cadets.
He noted that cadets do not choose the session name, but that it often begins to define his or her ministry. Similarly, he said, in John 15 we see that we didn’t choose Jesus, but he chose us. Once we identify with him, he begins to define our lives.
“See, he wanted to be friends with us, and the price for that friendship was death,” Knaggs said. “He gave sacrificially—that is what compels us. Your sacrificial love will compel others. It’s a measurable love that you can demonstrate in measurable ways.
“He has chosen you,” Knaggs said to the 46 “Friends of Christ” cadets. “But we all are friends of Christ if we believe in the saving grace of God. He will change your life and you will follow his will.”
Following an invitation to prayer for all in attendance, the Knaggs knelt together—with their two sons—at the mercy seat. Adherents, soldiers, officers, cabinet members, cadets, friends and, perhaps, those seeking friendship with Christ lined the front of the auditorium, spilling into the aisles.
Following the service, attendees received a special edition copy of One Day, by Commissioner James Knaggs and Major Stephen Court, on “a dream for The Salvation Army.” Follow New Frontier for information on the public release of the book.
Read Commissioner James Knaggs’ vision for The Salvation Army in New Frontier vol. 28, no. 13, and keep up with his daily blog at tcspeak.com.