A different path to full-time service

by Major Beth Petrie

At the College for Officer Training (front row): Envoy Laura Moore, Envoy Melissa Murray, Envoy CeCe Coffer, (back row) Principal Major John Pook, guest presenter David Winters, A/C David Hamilton and Major Beth Petrie, distance learning coordinator

God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you…” is a lyric which often comes to my mind in a different context as I work with auxiliary captains and envoys across the Central Territory. While some have received a new call to ministry, many are fulfilling a call that wasn’t answered earlier in their lives.

The Distance Learning Program (DLP) supports the territory by assisting second- and third-career individuals transitioning into full-time Salvation Army ministry through non-traditional means. They are often in their late 40s or mid-50s—as long as they can give at least 10 years of service.

Auxiliary captains are soldiers who complete the candidacy process through their corps officer and divisional candidates’ secretary and for whom it is determined that immediate appointment to the field is appropriate. Their path to full officership includes five years of service and completion of the full DLP. If married, both individuals are required to become ACs and complete these steps.

Envoys are soldiers who are employed by their division to take on ministry roles similar to that of officers. They remain employees and are opted into the DLP as their divisional commander requests. If married, their spouse must support their work but is not required to participate.

The full DLP consists of 18 classes which are taken one per quarter over a three- to four-year period. These classes include doctrine, business and corps administration, moral and ethical issues, Salvation Army and church history, spiritual formation, pastoral care and counseling, comparative religions, Bible classes, biblical interpretation, and preaching. Based on each individual’s background, some of these classes may be exempted.

DLP courses are presented in various ways including online asynchronous (curriculum is set and assignments are completed independently within a certain timeframe), remote synchronous (participated in remotely but at the same time with other students and teacher), in-person intensives, independent studies, practicums and seminars. Twice a year, distance learners travel to Chicago for weeklong classes and to enjoy the opportunity to engage with cadets and staff on the beautiful grounds of the College for Officer Training (CFOT).

“I wish I would’ve gone to CFOT when I was younger,” said Envoy Melissa Murray, pastoral care associate in the Great Lakes Harbor Light System, who is currently a DLP student. Having overcome addiction and being older and wiser, she has been given another chance to respond to the call of God on her life as she serves in ministry every day.

It is never too late to respond to God’s call. There is a place of service for you. Distance Learning may help you find it. Don’t hesitate to talk with your corps officer and divisional candidates’ secretary.

 

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