Commissioning 2016 Daily Wrap-Up

Friday, June 10thSaturday, June 11thSunday, June 12th

Commissioning 2016 under way

Commissioning Weekend for the “Messengers of Light” session began Friday with a pair of events in Hershey, Pa. Silver_Star_featured

A Fellowship of the Silver Star Dinner kicked off the festivities at the Hotel Hershey. Parents and mentors of the 46 cadets in the session were honored for their support and encouragement during the emotional ceremony.

The evening concluded with a Commencement Service at the Hershey Lodge, where most of the weekend’s events are being held. The audience heard from valedictorian Trisha Smouse, who earned a 3.99 GPA, and several other cadets were honored for academic achievement.

Commissioner Merle Heatwole, international secretary for the Americas and Caribbean Zone, challenged the cadets to be a shepherd to lost people.Daily_Wrap_Up_featured

Saturday’s Commissioning schedule features a morning Family Worship Service, including a presentation of “Moses.” Star Search will bring out the territory’s best musicians during the day and a praise and prayer gathering will close the day.

The “Messengers of Light” session will be commissioned on Sunday.

// Story by Bob Mitchell

Star Search Saturday

The second day of Commissioning 2016 began strong at 9:30 A.M. with the production of “Moses” and the music of Unbound.

The Territorial Arts Ministries Team (TAM) performed The 30–minute drama for friends and family of the Messengers of Light session. The production was extended from its eight–minute version seen on the Boundless Congress 2015 stage in London.Moses_featured

Spotlights lit up the broad stage in the Great American Hall. Panoramic screens captured the audience’s imagination with impressive computer–generated animation and graphics. Powerful music and audio effects filled the air. Costumed actors and dancers vividly told the story of how God used Moses to free the Israelites from an Egyptian Pharaoh.

Commissioner Sue Swanson said that the love God had shown Moses was “Not just for Moses and his people. It’s for all of God’s children.

“All our chains are gone as well,” she said.

star_search_featuredLater that morning, the meeting and conference rooms at Hershey Lodge became stages for the dance and music performances of the 2016 Star Search finalists. Salvationists as young as six years old came from as far away as Puerto Rico to perform in this year’s display. Youth demonstrated their various talents on guitar, on snare drum, in drama, on piano, on brass, and more.

At a festive awards ceremony, Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris offered a message to the crowd, especially to older participants. “Make sure you continue to teach the younger ones. The awards you win here are fun, but the real results are what we will see from each of you at your corps.”

Tonight at 7:30 P.M., the “In Spirit & In Truth” Praise & Power Gathering will include speakers Commissioner Sue Swanson and Commissioner William Cochrane. Music, testimonies, and devotional thoughts will enrich the program.

// Story by Hugo Bravo

Cadets Commissioned, Appointed & Territorial Leaders Honored.

Sunday began with a sacred and solemn Ordination and Commissioning service led by Colonel William A. Bamford III, chief secretary. The Great American Hall with a seating capacity for 2,288 people was packed.

Music by the New York Staff Band and the Eastern Territorial Songsters, who ministered under soft, golden spotlights, set a spiritual tone for the meeting.

As the Messengers of Light came forward to receive their ordination as ministers of the gospel and commissioning as lieutenants, friends and family members stood quietly to show their heartfelt support.

“This weekend, the Great American Hall is a tabernacle—the place where God dwells,” said Commissioner Barry Swanson.

Accepted candidates later entered the hall and lined the platform, wearing uniforms adorned with scarf–like Salvation Army flags.

“Thank you for the people who have answered your call to become ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Help us to build each other in the faith,” prayed Lt. Colonel Guy D. Klemanski, Greater New York divisional commander.

At the Appointment Service, Lieutenant Melanie Ortiz received a standing ovation for receiving the Commissioner’s Award. Anticipation and fanfare filled the room as each new lieutenant marched forward to receive his or her first appointment.

Lieutenant Kendacy Barnes, representative session speaker, offered a rousing address and concluded,  “We are ready! Are you?”

Commissioner Sue Swanson said during her charge to new lieutenants, “If you keep the light burning bright within you, then you can be a Messenger of Light.”

Both the Eastern Territory and the Central Territory observed the retirement celebration of the Commissioners Swanson, led by Commissioner Israel L. Gaither.  A greeting from Chicago by hundreds of Salvationists came via video. They lifted banners and placards and waved them vigorously for the camera.

Commissioner Gaither, representing Commissioner Eva Gaither who was also present, said to the Swansons, “We believe in you. During our time together at National Headquarters, we fell in love with you.” Everyone in the room stood and gave a stirring ovation to the Swansons.

The New York Staff Band played a special piece in honor of the Swansons, which was written by Army composer Bill Himes.

Colonels F. Bradford and Heidi Bailey presented the retirement certificates to the Swansons, recognizing their combined 76 years and 40 days of ministry as Salvation Army officers.

Said Commissioner Barry Swanson, “Thank you for honoring us with your presence. We can’t see it yet, but just beyond the hill, is our future.

// Story by Warren L. Maye, Editor in Chief