Commissioning 2017: Daily Wrap-up
Commissioners Knaggs jumpstart Commissioning 2017
by Robert Mitchell
Commissioning Weekend for the “Joyful Intercessors” session of cadets kicked off on Friday with three events featuring retired Commissioners Carolyn R. and James M. Knaggs as special guests.
The Knaggses, who are officers from the USA Eastern Territory, recently retired after more than 40 years of service, including their final active officer appointments as leaders of the USA Western Territory.
Friday began with the commencement of 69 members of the “Joyful Intercessors” session, followed by the traditional Fellowship of the Silver Star luncheon. Honored were parents, mentors, and significant others who helped guide the cadets through the College for Officer Training (CFOT).
Colonel Janet Munn, CFOT principal, told a large crowd in the CFOT gym in Suffern, N.Y., that the “Joyful Intercessors” come from 11 countries (United States, Haiti, St. Thomas, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Honduras).
The cadets also speak four languages (English, Spanish, Creole, and French).
“This is the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse session in our territory’s history,” Munn said.
Munn said 26 of the cadets earned college degrees (including two master’s degrees) before coming to the CFOT. As many as 72 percent came to faith in Christ through the ministry of The Salvation Army.
“[That is] perhaps the most significant statistic we can share,” Munn said. “Fifty-seven percent of the Joyful Intercessors are first-generation Salvationists, which speaks as an effective ministry in local communities across the territory.”
Each cadet received an associate’s degree in applied science and some received special awards, including:
- Bible Knowledge Progress: Shakai Drigo.
- Bible Knowledge Achievement: Andrea Stephanie Canas Lopez and John Ruiz, who both answered 128 of 150 questions correctly.
- Doctrine Knowledge Progress: Florette Etienne.
- Doctrine Knowledge: Abraham Garrett.
- Salutatorian: Matthew Jones with a GPA of 3.93.
- Valedictorian: Katherine Betts with a GPA of 3.4.
“I am incredibly proud to have been part of a session that so readily loved and poured into one another,” Betts said in her valedictory address.
Betts said her session mates are heading into the world with a good mix of excitement and nerves, but she quoted Isaiah 41 to remind them not to fear the future.
“God’s Word is never lacking in promises and encouragement for us as we think about the future He has planned for us,” she said. “I would think that little piece of Scripture would offer all of you some encouragement and some hope.”
She also urged the graduates to continue learning.
“We are not done growing and we are not done learning,” she said. “We recognize that to be the most effective servants and leaders in His kingdom, we need to continue to build upon this academic and spiritual foundation that we’ve established here as cadets.”
A few moments later, Commissioner James Knaggs continued their education by sharing his “10 Salvationist Imperatives.
- God wants you to be holy, so show up for work.
- Success in ministry is about being faithful to God.
- Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
- Prayer is a relationship.
- People count. No one is disposable.
- The harvest season is every day. Make and take every opportunity to lead others to Jesus.
- Consider learning a new language.
- Love unconditionally.
- Keep on and don’t give up.
- Worship always.
“I’m telling you very little that’s new,” Knaggs said. “I’m telling you things that you learned in these two years and certainly on your journey.”
Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs delivered the devotional for the Fellowship of Silver Star luncheon and focused on the parable of the seeds, while quoting a host of Salvation Army luminaries.
“During these past 22 months, we have seen in our cadets the seeds that you the parents, the family members, and mentors, have planted in their lives,” she said. “You scattered seeds of hope and faith and trust and love. These seeds have taken root and have flourished in their hearts.”
“These same seeds are now given to our soon-to-be commissioned officers, who will from the beginning of their ministry, descend into the field of life to scatter the seeds of God’s love and mercy into the lives of others.”
Knaggs also praised the CFOT staff and faculty.
“The training staff and instructors have, day by day, shown your loved ones what it means to be a Joyful Intercessor,” she said. “These commissioned officers have done a job that we really need to applaud and say, ‘thank you.’”
Colonel Kenneth O. Johnson, chief secretary, said “thank you” during the Commencement ceremony by bestowing a special honor on Dr. Elio Cuccaro for his work on the CFOT staff and as a member of the Academic Oversight Advisory Council.
The final event on Friday evening was a concert featuring the New York Staff Band (NYSB) and Eastern Territorial Songsters (ETS) at the Hilton Westchester Hotel in White Plains, N.Y.
Commissioning Weekend will continue tomorrow at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y. with Star Search; a rally for senior and junior soldiers; and several events related to “The Whole World Mobilizing” campaign, including street ministries in high-profile areas such as parks and a local mall.
You can follow many of Saturday’s events on Facebook and the various social media platforms on SAconnects.org.
The “Joyful Intercessors” will be ordained at 10 a.m. and commissioned at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Westchester County Center.
The joy of the Lord!
—Warren L. Maye, Robert Mitchell, and Hugo Bravo contributed to this story
Envoy Steve Bussey, who helped organize many of the day’s activities, had just finished praying with a homeless man along busy Mamaroneck Avenue when his phone rang.
“Someone just got saved!” Bussey said to Captain Alex Rodriguez of the White Plains, N.Y., Corps.
The phone call was from his wife, Envoy Sharon Bussey, who was at one of 10 ministry venues throughout the city of White Plains, N.Y.
The team on Mamaroneck Avenue gave Oreo cookies and lemonade to passersby, and even prayed with some homeless people.
Cheyenne Martinez, a first-year cadet at the College for Officer Training (CFOT), wore a backpack with a large sign attached to it, which read: “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10).
“It feels amazing to share the joy of the Lord with everyone,” she said. “I’ve talked to quite a few people and have shared my story with them and they’ve shared theirs with me.
“It’s been a great day of seeing the joy of the Lord in other people.”
First-year Cadet Alan Porchetti wore a mobile beverage dispenser on his back and dispensed cool lemonade on a hot afternoon.
“It feels awesome to be a part of such an amazing movement,” he said. “We’re excited to be out in the street representing what God is doing in our lives and what He can do in other people’s lives.”
Castillo said Mamaroneck Avenue is one of the busiest thoroughfares in White Plains.
Salvation Army on the streets
“This is awesome,” he said. “It puts The Salvation Army in the spotlight.
“Doing this lets people know we are here in this community and we’ve been here for 125 years. This is a bold statement—that we are working in this community.”
Another “Go Team” went to The Westchester, an upscale mall. The all-woman team dressed as the famous Salvation Army Donut Girls of WW1 and offered replica plastic donuts, sunglasses, and smiles to shoppers.
First-year Cadet Ida Amelie Helgesen, a native of Norway, also distributed information that marked the 100th anniversary of the Donut Girls.
“They were on the front lines,” she said. “They shared joy and hope to the soldiers by giving them hot coffee and donuts—made in their helmets. We are doing the same thing, 100 years after, in a modern way.
“It’s so good to be out here, putting a smile on their faces.”
Lieutenant Railene Griffin from the Sanford, Maine, Corps, said the smiles made the day worth it.
“People are walking in the mall and they have this sad look and then they see you and they get happy,” she said. “Just holding a little simple donut, it’s just wonderful to see the joy on their faces when they realize someone cares about them in this vast world of ‘crazy.’
“I like this idea of getting out and going out and doing something. That’s what the Army used to do. We mobilized.”
Velda Steele, a soldier from the Newark, N.J., Westside Corps, agreed.
“It’s great to be visible like this,” she said.
The “Go Teams” were in several city parks on Saturday.
First-year Cadet Kaitlyn Haddix and soldiers Luis and Nancy Gutierrez of the Bound Brook, N.J., Corps, gave out Yo-Yos, bandanas, and sunglasses at Turnure Park.
“It’s been going really well,” Haddix said. “We’re mostly out of everything.
“It’s been really great talking to people we don’t know. I got to talk to a few homeless gentlemen.”
Bussey said forming your own “Go Team” in your community is not difficult.
“I pray that the Eastern Territory will be an inspiration to Salvationists round the world,” he said.
“This is all easy to do. Anyone can do any of these components. You don’t even have to have something to give out; you can just have a smile on your face, go out in your community, and love people and that’s going to transform the world.”
Ministry to take home
As many as 100 Salvationists mobilized in the immediate vicinity of the White Plains Corps. “We have folks here representing almost every division,” said Bussey. “We want each of them to take home from this experience a new ministry outreach idea.”
Lieutenant Anagelyz Cruz from the Augusta, Maine Corps participated in a new, ministry for the White Plains Corps. Cruz, along with 1st year CFOT cadets, posed in front of the corps with three, 8 ft. tall inflatable Salvation Army band members. As recorded music played, the Salvationists, wearing balloon–like inflated costumes, danced and waved as onlookers took photos and motorists offered honks of approval.
“The inflatable Salvationists have been getting a great reaction from people driving by,” said Cruz. “The weather is perfect for this ministry, and it’s making them notice The Salvation Army is here in their community, and ready to help them.”
Just a block from the corps, cadets were involved in a completely different activity—cleaning windshields.
“Through a quick clean, or a new air freshener with Joy written on it, anyone driving by can get a reminder of the love of Christ in their lives,” said Cadet Miguel Barriera, as he spoke to a woman in an SUV. She said she did not need a windshield cleaning, but appreciated the car air freshener.
“The [first-year cadets] Messengers of the Gospel arrived early to help set up the teams,” said Major Sylvia Machado. “They live out the theme of ‘The Whole World Mobilizing’ every day. Its why they want to be officers. Not to sit in front of a computer all day, but to be out in the community. Events like the ministries going on this weekend are great preparation for them.”
In downtown White Plains, Captain Ricky Armour and some cadets, along with representatives from various organizations in White Plains, set up tents for a Juneteenth Festival & Parade festival in which The Salvation Army would be represented. Armour said that though it was his first time participating in this event, such outreach should come naturally to every officer.
“To spread the love of Jesus Christ in an outdoor ministry is exactly what William Booth did. As Salvationists, we can’t let ourselves get comfortable sitting inside the walls of our corps,” said Armour. “With enough of us out there, with His people, we can mobilize the world.”
Go Teams took their ministry door–to–door, and when allowed, went inside to minister to people needing to hear the gospel message. Wheelchair bound residents of a nursing home warmly welcomed members of a team, who witnessed to them. The team also held hands with other local residents and even prayed with them in the streets.
“It’s like planting a spiritual seed,” said Lieutenant Otero Giovanni of the Bound Brook, N.J. Corps. “One day, it will grow.”
Celebrating the arts, sending mission teams
The Star Search awards were spectacular, as youth from around the territory received trophies for their performances and posed for photographs.
The Territorial Arts Ministries Team and Army on Its Toes presented “Christ’s Love Compels Us.”
Commissioners Bamford conducted the official send off of the World Services and Mission Teams.
The ministry of UnBound concluded an exciting and inspiring evening.
Tomorrow, the Ordination and Commissioning will begin at 10 a.m., followed in the afternoon at 3:00 p.m. by the long awaited and much anticipated Appointment service.
—Warren L. Maye, Robert Mitchell, and Hugo Bravo contributed to this story
‘A sacred step’
The Joyful Intercessors are ordained, commissioned, and appointed
by Hugo Bravo
During the Ordination and Commissioning service, Commissioner James M. Knaggs offered a powerful declaration to the newly commissioned lieutenants and their families.
“The Salvation Army is not a club. It’s not simply a place to meet up on Sundays. [We] are a mission of God. We are a movement of God!”
Speaking directly to the audience that had packed the Westchester County Center to the rafters, Commissioner Knaggs reminded them that each new officer was on stage because God had a plan for him or her.
“God sent these folks to the Army for a reason. He wanted them to become Salvationists. He wanted them to be disciples, and He wanted them to be our Joyful Intercessors.
“They, and we, have our work cut out for us,” said Knaggs. He cited a troubling statistic—out of the top 10 most “post–Christian” cities in America, 8 are in the Eastern Territory.
“God is calling the Joyful intercessors—and each of us,” said Knaggs. “He will provide the means.
“Scripture says that, without holiness, no one will see the Lord,” says Knaggs. “But that also means that, without holiness, no one will see the Lord in you. Rather, they will see a checkered path, full of confusion. But with holiness, everyone will only see God in you.”
Before officially presenting the Joyful Intercessors, Colonel Janet Munn, College for Officer Training principal, read facts regarding the diversity of the lieutenants. Eleven countries of origin are represented by the 69 Joyful Intercessors. A third of them are immigrants. Over half are 1st generation Salvationists.
To great applause, Colonel Munn declared the Joyful Intercessors the most diverse class of cadets in the history of the Eastern Territory.
“What brings us together—all of these nationalities, languages, and countries—is our love for Jesus Christ,” Munn said.
Appointed to serve
During the afternoon Appointment Service, Lieutenant Monica Gelnett, representative speaker, delivered a powerful and impassioned message that caused the audience at the Westchester County Center to respond with a standing ovation.
“I stand here today by the Grace of God, to encourage all of us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received; to be leaders of a new, different spirit,” said Gelnett. She continued, “You are the pride and joy of the creator of the universe. But, let me ask you a question. Are you all living like that?”
“1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to always be joyful, never stop praying, and be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you. Now, those commands may seem impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.”
“Those three commands can be bonded together so that we are not easily broken. When we experience the true joy of having a focus set on Christ, those commands become possible,” said Gelnett.
Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, noted how the Joyful Intercessors lived up to their “joyful” reputation. He said that as “intercessors,” they would also play a significant role.
“To intercede is to act on behalf of someone during times of trouble,” said Bamford. “That is a challenge that will come to you many times on your journey as an officer.
“Many sick people were brought to Jesus to be cured. You will be given opportunities like this. You will take a man from hungry to fed, naked to clothed, and friendless to finding love and friendship. Be an intercessor who will introduce others to the love of Jesus Christ.”
Before the lieutenants received their appointments, Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford, territorial president of Women’s Ministries, offered them one last piece of advice.
“I joke with officers about a lot of things,” said Bamford. “But I never joke about their first appointment. It is not just a place where the Army sends you. It’s a sacred step in each of your lives.”