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See and Reflect: Commissioning 2022

See and Reflect: Commissioning 2022

Words David Youngmeyer, Holly Morton and Hope Burmeister
Photos Sarah Pearce and Qalicake Production

Fiji Commissions the Reflectors of Holiness, Yaloyalo ni Bula Savasava

The commissioning and ordination of the Reflectors of Holiness session of cadets took place in Suva, over the weekend of 25–27 November 2022.

There was a great feeling of joy and celebration, as everyone was excited to be together. A few members of the executive leadership team from Territorial Headquarters in New Zealand were able to travel over this year, which was particularly significant as the previous commissioning weekend in Fiji had been affected by travel restrictions.

Covenant Day was held on the Friday; a special day for cadets where they sign their Officer Covenants and are reminded of the primacy of the relationship between themselves and the Lord. The covenants are also a reminder that all of the work that these officers will contribute to their corps and the mission flows out of their love of and service to God.

On Saturday, many friends, family and corps members attended the ordination and commissioning of eight Fijian and Tongan cadets, held at Suva Corps. The service was livestreamed so that those in the wider territory could watch and take part in the celebrations. The cadets, along with flag bearers, were welcomed to the event by the band. The service was punctuated by a number of moving worship songs, including ‘I hear the sound of the Army of the Lord’ and ‘All to Jesus I surrender’.

Captain Andrew Moffat, divisional commander in Fiji, read out each corps that the cadets had come from, which was met with loud cheers from those attending. Some of the cadets prayed for the meeting in English, Tongan and Fijian.

The New Zealand-based cadets offered a special gift to their Fijian-based session mates: they performed ‘Te haka a te poti’ over video, which they traditionally do to mark the closing of their own commissioning service. Cadets MeleSeini and Peter Otainao also received a special video message from their home corps—Nuku’alofa Corps—in Tonga.

Captain Dale McFarlane, senior training officer at the School of Officer Training in Suva, shared with the congregation how the past couple of years have been for the Fiji cadets. She rejoiced in the fact that Peter and MeleSeini had been able to join the rest of the cadets in Fiji at the beginning of this year, although it was devastatingly in the midst of the Tonga eruption and earthquake.

Dale commended the cadets for the significant commitment that they were making over the weekend. ‘They are true and passionate Salvationists, and are well equipped to enter officership. Each of them yesterday entered into a sacred covenant to love and serve God supremely all their days.’

The cadets were led in the Affirmation of Faith by Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell, and were then ordained and commissioned and prayed for. There was then a resounding cheer as the newly ordained and commissioned lieutenants were introduced to the congregation. Following this, the lieutenants’ children joined them up the front for the presentation of appointments, and were personally acknowledged for their part in their parents’ current and future ministries. The families then stepped forward together for cadets to be commissioned.

Lieutenant Bale Tuinaceva shared her testimony, comparing her story to a puzzle and reflecting on God’s encouragement to follow a new pattern—his pattern. ‘I thank God for the way he has shaped me and moulded my life so that I can be a reflector of Christ to the needy, to the unloved, to those who need salvation in their lives.’

There was a recognition of Major Louisa Raiko’s 25 years of active service as she received her Long Service Award. Louisa was ordained as an auxiliary-captain in 1997 alongside her husband Micah, who retired in 2018. She spent much of her service in courts and prison ministry, as well as in women’s ministries.

Assistant Territorial Secretary for Personnel Captain Bryant Richards shared an encouragement for those sensing a similar call to the newly commissioned lieutenants. He brought the 2023 candidates session—Champions of the Mission—up the front of the meeting to acknowledge their commitment and admission into the school for officer training.

Commissioner Mark Campbell spoke of the significance of this session name, ‘Reflectors of Holiness’ for our Army. ‘We’re a Salvation Army that brings life—the life of Jesus Christ. And to bring that life, we are all to be reflectors of holiness. As people come through any of our mission doors … people have the potential of meeting Jesus in all his fullness, to experience his redemptive power and transformation in their lives.’

The service concluded with the new lieutenants performing a joyful Tongan dance to ‘Eiki Tau—God our Commander’ followed by the band playing as dancers came up the front for a Fijian performance as well.

Graduation Service for Reflectors of Holiness, Ngā Kaiwhakaata i te Tapu

On the evening of Friday 9 December, Hutt City Corps hosted the Booth College of Mission (BCM) graduation ceremony.

Around 200 people—including family, friends and Salvation Army supporters—attended the event to celebrate the graduation of the seven members of the Reflectors of Holiness session, Ngā Kaiwhakaata i te Tapu, with more people joining online.

The Salvation Army Youth Band provided music throughout the evening, richly interwoven with periods of singing, dancing, and Māori and Fijian culture.

Captain Bryant Richards, acknowledged Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell and everyone who supported the commissioning.

Bryant also thanked Majors Garth and Suzanne Stevenson for their leadership of the great BCM team: ‘You’re a bunch of people who are absolutely committed to the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army. You are a taonga, a gift, to us as a movement.’

Colonel Gerry Walker, chief secretary, led a prayer for the cadets, describing their graduation as a passage and a completion: ‘We offer thanks for the success of their journey. We thank you for granting them focus and direction, and then strength and endurance.’ 

Sessional speaker, Cadet Natalie Kirby, addressed the audience on behalf of her fellow graduands.

‘It’s been a blessing to have had two years of personal development through seeking God more deeply as to what he has for us,’ she said.

‘For some in the session the journey started 14 years ago when they were first called to officership, for others it has been less … God pulled us all together and formed this session to train together and I’m grateful for that.’

Natalie said that the training had its fair share of challenges and joys, and a wide variety of emotions and events. 

‘I know that it’s been two years of training because Barry and I entered college with a fairly immobile six-month-old who barely slept through the night and now we have a two-year-old who’s graduated to a big brother, and he sleeps through the night now. We are back to the broken sleep but loving it.’

Commissioner Mark Campbell presented awards to the members of the Reflectors of Holiness session—Tammy Mohi, Rebecca Moffat, Nick Moffat, Alana LePine, Natalie Kirby, Barry Kirby and Ben Cola. 

All received the Certificate of Salvation Army Officer Training, while the Diploma in Christian Studies (Theology) went to Tammy, Rebecca, Nick, Alana, Natalie and Ben. In their turn, Tammy, Rebecca, Natalie, Barry and Ben received the Diploma in Christian Studies (Leadership).

Guest speaker Captain Andrew Moffatt, divisional Commander, Fiji Division, who last spoke at a graduation 14 years ago when he represented his own session, told the graduates they had achieved significant outcomes.

‘You all sit here as graduates due to your hard work—well done! You leave BCM adequately equipped to engage as officers in The Salvation Army in the salvation war.

‘The Salvation Army is a great movement in that we officers are encouraged to continue our learning and I would encourage you all to travel the path of lifelong learning and studentship.

‘Be encouraged that you are not only called, trained and soon to be appointed, but celebrate that God has made this possible for his good purposes.

‘You have something that will bring his kingdom here to earth. Life change in some people you encounter will occur because you are you, and you are living lives committed and inspired by Christ.’

Lifelong Salvationist and BCM’s Education Officer and Academic Dean, David Wardle, was honoured for his service to the college since 2010. BCM Principal Major Garth Stevenson said that over the years, 135 cadets have benefitted from David’s wisdom, compassion, commitment and passion for the ongoing learning and growth of all those studying at BCM. This translates to almost half of all the active Salvation Army officers serving in the territory today.

Silver Star Brunch

The Silver Star Brunch for this year’s cadets and their parents was held at Booth College of Mission on Saturday 10 December; a significant recognition of those who have contributed to the lives of the cadets about to be ordained and commissioned later that day. Lt-Colonel Margaret Bateman organised and led the brunch as Silver Star Secretary. There were 14 parents in attendance at this year’s brunch in New Zealand, with 16 parents of Fijian cadets being recognised two weeks earlier at the Fiji Silver Star Brunch.

Commissioner Julie Campbell welcomed the cadets and their parents to the ceremony, and Cadet Ben Cola shared on behalf of the Reflectors of Holiness session. Ben expressed gratitude to the staff at Booth College of Mission for their guidance over the past two years of their study and thanked all the parents present for their support of the cadets. He referred to the name of their session and explained that his first example of holiness came from his parents, sharing the importance of their input for his life to reach this point.

Each cadet with their parents came up to receive their certificates and stars, which the cadets then presented to their parents. There was a wonderful mix of emotions, with a lot of laughter amidst a few tears. Graeme and Susan Howan, Cadet Rebecca Moffat’s parents, received their second Silver Star at this ceremony, following on from when their son, Captain Jacob Howan, was commissioned in 2016.

Long Service Order Recognition Dinner

On the evening of Saturday 10 December, a number of officers from across the territory were celebrated for their ongoing service. Nine officers received their Long Service Awards for 25 and 35 years of service, from the Proclaimers of Salvation, Builders of the Kingdom, Messengers of God’s Love, and Messengers of Peace sessions. The officers recognised at the dinner held a combined 275 years of service in The Salvation Army.

Major Suzanne Stevenson and Lt-Colonel David Bateman shared their testimonies, reflecting on their 35 years each as officers. David considered how each of the appointments he has had as an officer have been the right place for him in that season, even in periods of difficulty. ‘There have been numerous occasions when God has put me in situations where I have been involved in unexpected ministry with unexpectedly positive results.’ He shared how his and Margaret’s appointment to Papua New Guinea was a particular challenge, with feelings of isolation being very prominent for them, especially during the beginning of the pandemic, and that this resulted in him needing to lean on God more and more over this time.

Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell presented the Long Service certificates to the officers, and those at the dinner were able to catch a glimpse of the officers’ photos from their commissioning as they received their awards. The evening concluded with a Christmas-themed devotional thought from Captain Bryant Richards and a closing prayer from Colonel Gerry Walker.

New Zealand Commissioning and Ordination

The Reflectors of Holiness, Ngā Kaiwhakaata i te Tapu, were ordained and commissioned by Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell at Hutt City Corps on Saturday 10 December. 

Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development Major Liz Gainsford gave an introduction to the commissioning service in te reo Māori, and the National Youth Band played Whakaaria Mai (How Great Thou Art), followed by a karakia (prayer). 

Liz welcomed Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell, friends and family of cadets, and the cadets soon to be ordained and commissioned, and encouraged them in ‘God’s perfect peace and love and assurance and his uncompromising joy’.  

Three of the cadets, Tammy Mohi, Barry Kirby and Ben Cola, prayed in three languages, te reo Māori, English and Fijian. 

A highlight of the service was when a video was shared of the recently ordained and commissioned lieutenants from the School for Officer Training in Fiji, encouraging their session mates to reflect God’s holiness as they prepare for officership.  

A message of congratulations and encouragement from General Brian Peddle, the international leader of The Salvation Army, was read by Assistant Principal Booth College of Mission Major Suzanne Stevenson. The General shared that commissioning is only the beginning, mentioning 2 Corinthians 6:3–6 in that everything they do, despite hardships, is for the kingdom. ‘God is now releasing you to be pure vessels in a world stained with sin!’

Principal Major Garth Stevenson spoke about the Reflectors of Holiness undergoing two years of training in personal development to advance the mission of God; ‘knowing God, knowing themselves and knowing their mission’. 

The seven cadets then spoke the Affirmation of Faith in English, te reo Māori and Fijian and were ordained as lieutenants, with Tammy Mohi receiving a hongi (Māori greeting) from Mark and Julie and a waiata tautoko (song of response) from a family member in the audience.

The new lieutenants stood at the front of the congregation, with four reaccepted officers with the rank of captain, Bradley and Fleur Carpenter, and Epironi and Sera Toloi. Colonel Gerry Walker led a prayer, thanking God for the promises made by the lieutenants and the reaccepted officers. The seven new lieutenants were then commissioned to their new appointments, followed by much applause. 

Lieutenant Rebecca Moffat shared her testimony about her calling to officership at an Amplify Creative Arts Camp when she was 19 years old. She feared the cost of following the calling, and God pointed her to Matthew 16:24: ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”.’ While putting off the calling for a long time, she finally applied for officership and trusted in God through seasons of doubt and confusion. She met her husband Lieutenant Nick Moffat during their studies and they were ordained and commissioned as a couple. 

New lieutenant Alana LePine read Colossians 1:9–14, about the Lord filling his people with wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit to bear fruit and to grow in knowledge. 

Commissioner Mark Campbell preached an inspiring message about being Reflectors of Holiness. He mentioned the difference between decision-making and discernment-making, and demonstrating spiritual wisdom, walking worthy and being strong. ‘We walk like Jesus walks, and we reflect him in that way,’ he said.

Eight new candidates in the School for Officer Training, Fiji, and five at Booth College of Mission in New Zealand will begin their officership training this year, announced Captain Bryant Richards. 

A haka finished the service off on a powerful note, representing the diverse cultures in the territory. 

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