Educating the head–and heart

The Miller High Life Theatre was filled with cheers as “Defenders of Justice” and officers received certificates and degrees.

“This is a great night of celebration—awesome and incredible,” Major John Pook, College for Officer (CFOT) training principal, said in his welcoming remarks. “We all benefit from the time they have put into their studies and education. They will be better spiritual leaders, better officers.”

The Territorial Worship Collective then had the crowd on its feet and joining in rousing renditions of “Glorious Day,” “You Have Made Me Glad,” and “I Thank You.”

Following a prayer and scripture reading, the CFOT United Chorus performed the Defenders’ session song, “In The Army.” Some cadets had tears in their eyes as they sang, “Where Jesus leads, I’ll follow on; I’ll stand, I’ll stand for Christ alone.”

Commissioner Merle Heatwole gave the commencement address based in Proverbs 4:23 which prioritizes guarding of our hearts.

“Yes, our educational studies are important,” he said. “They will help us in our ministries in the future, but all of that can be lost if we are not careful to guard our hearts.”

He continued, “We are celebrating those who have trained themselves through their educational pursuits to prepare themselves for service in The Salvation Army….and yet, again, in spite of all these achievements, they will be meaningless unless they also prepare and guard their hearts for the sacred service for which God has called them.”

He urged preparation must begin with the study of God’s Word, noting that it sustains us, provides rest for our souls, and serves as a guidebook.

Major Arnel Ruppel, assistant principal for administration and curriculum, and Major Johanna Pook, assistant principal for personnel, announced awards for cadets that were presented by Territorial Commander Commissioner Evie Diaz.

Cadet Julie Reed received the Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle Preaching Award; Cadets Cecilia Dinardi and Maximiliano Hernan Franchetti each received the Colonel Albert Pepper Servant Leadership Award; Cadet Amy DeLonis received the Commissioner Andrew Miller Evangelism Award; and Donald Cooper received the Kathleen Zehm World Mission Award. Salutatorian Cadet Bailey Sawka and Valedictorian Cadet Cecilia Dinardi also were recognized.

“We have the privilege of joining a line of men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of others,” Cadet Cecilia said in her speech. “As we embark on this sacred mission, we are encouraged to embrace the core principles that have guided The Salvation Army. Let love be our guiding light. Compassion, our constant companion. And humility our hallmark.”

“This mission is not one we undertake alone. First, we are part of a global Movement, united by our shared commitment to serve others and advance the Kingdom of God. And second, God is always—always—walking alongside us,” she proclaimed. “We live in a world that encounters many, many challenges: poverty, homelessness, addiction, injustice. But it’s also filled with opportunities to make a difference.”

The announcement of training certificates by Captain Mary Kim, CFOT director of curriculum, was followed by recognition of advanced certificates and degrees that were achieved by officers by Lt. Colonel Darlene Harvey, officer resource and development (ORD) secretary, and Dr. Rob DeGeorge, ORD department manager.

The meeting concluded with prayer by Lt. Colonel Dan Jennings, territorial secretary for personnel, who expressed thankfulness for those who’ve nurtured the gifts of intellect, wisdom and understanding and asked God to bless them for the sake of the mission.

See more photos in a gallery here.

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