‘Ready or not, world—here we come!’
After fervent prayer and the viewing of a video presentation on the Army’s work around the world, Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander, said, “I want to thank you. Last year, the Eastern Territory raised $10,166,000 for World Services!” Thunderous applause met his announcement. “It is so crucial that we as Salvationists of the USA do all that we can to support the Army’s work around the world.”
Swanson thanked officers in the room for their long service and recognized others who are recently retired. In particular, he thanked Lt. Colonels James W. and Blanche L. Reynolds, territorial secretary for business administration and program resource manager/children’s ministries outreach director, for their officership.
Swanson presented the “Commissioner’s Award” to the most outstanding cadet. He said, “One cadet has been acknowledged for his outstanding overall service in every area of cadet life.” Assisting Commissioner Swanson was Major Ronald Foreman, College for Officer Training principal, who carried a bundle of books wrapped in colorful ribbon. Swanson presented the books to Lieutenant Jonathan Lewis. The mention of his name inspired applause from both his sessionmates and a large audience segment.
Lewis, also honored as the representative speaker, began with a question. “Let me see a show of hands. How many of you remember playing the game ‘Hide and Seek’?” As curious smiles appeared, he continued, “The person who is tagged ‘it’ says, ‘Ready or not, here I come!’” Lewis, son of Envoy Tony Lewis, commander of the West Philadelphia Corps Community Center, drew an analogy between the child’s game and life itself.
“Ready or not, things happen in our lives,” he said. “But the good news is, for those of us who feel ready to take on our first appointments and for those of us who don’t feel ready—the same God goes before us. He’s not going to leave us holding the bag. He is the difference maker!” Lewis ended his stirring message by saying, “And to the world, I say, ‘Ready or not, here we come!’” The Disciples of the Cross and the audience responded with a standing ovation.
Reaping ‘a harvest’
“You’re going to be a lieutenant,” said Commissioner E. Sue Swanson, territorial president of women’s organizations, during her thoughtful and challenging charge. “You’re going to go ‘in lieu’ of someone very important; someone of a much higher authority—you’re going to go representing Christ. People won’t see Him until they see you—present and available.”
Swanson explained that the new lieutenants would “occupy and inhabit” the place of their first appointments. She also alluded to a honeymoon season of approximately five years where the lieutenant is allowed to make mistakes along the way to opening new doors of opportunity and innovation. Her remark, “I’m sorry divisional commander, I’m only a lieutenant!” brought smiles. In her own inimitable style, Swanson masterfully mixed gravity with levity and kept her audience open to and focused on God’s message. “As a tenant on this land (occupying officers), God is looking for one thing—a harvest,” she said. “You’ll have only a short time to be a lieutenant, but you’ll have a lifetime to be a Disciple of the Cross. God bless you!”
The territorial commander then presented to each new lieutenant his or her first appointment. A vast array of communities across the territory awaited them. Many lieutenants were already married with families. And seven engaged couples received their appointments that day—many of whom would be married within a week.
No soldier left behind
Lieutenant Stephen Thomas, who had been hospitalized earlier and had missed the Ordination and Commissioning Service, came to the platform. Commissioner Swanson then ordained, commissioned, and appointed him—all at the same time. Swanson said to the former Harvard College student, “You have been appointed as assistant corps officer in another Ivy League town – New Haven, Connecticut!”
To conclude the service, the new officers followed their divisional leaders out of the hall while singing with the audience “Storm the Forts!” as the New York Staff Band (B/M Ronald Waiksnoris) played.
by Warren L. Maye