Class of 2021: Graduation
On the evening of Friday 10 December, Hutt City Corps hosted the Booth College of Mission (BCM) graduation ceremony.
With many award recipients and loved ones watching online, the festivities were livestreamed throughout the territory (and across the Tasman), with people near and far celebrating the class of 2021 and reflecting on a variety of academic achievements.
‘We have hearts full of thanksgiving to be part of this time of celebration,’ said Chair of the Academic Board Captain Bryant Richards, who began the evening by paying tribute to the BCM staff. ‘The ministry formation of hand, head, heart is one that they hold absolutely true.’
Education Officer David Wardle congratulated the cadets for their hard work across two unpredictable years. He joked about his role outside of the college as corps sergeant major at Upper Hutt Corps: ‘I would just like to point out that fifty percent of the cadets graduating this year have come from Upper Hutt Corps,’ he said proudly, ‘and I recall the Upper Hutt Corps Sergeant Major was a little annoyed at losing two valued young people, but the BCM Education Officer was delighted!’
Sessional speaker, Cadet Jesse Willis, thanked her session mates through a heartfelt, amusing speech about their time of learning and spiritual growth whilst at college together. ‘To my classmates—Alanah, Chris and Ben, the class of 2021—we did it, good job! I’m proud of us, and I’m so glad that we are moving a mere 40 minutes away from each other,’ Jesse said. ‘You are all a huge blessing to me.’
David then presented the four Messengers of Reconciliation—Alanah Moody, Chris Moody, Ben Willis and Jesse Willis—to Mark, who then presented them with their Diplomas in Christian Studies (Level 5), Diplomas in Christian Studies [Leadership] (Level 6) and Certificates of Salvation Army Officer Training.
In a special moment, Captain Karl Foreman (New Plymouth corps officer) performed Te Haka A Te Pōti (I’ll Fight) with Jesse, his daughter, as she received her certificate.
Auxiliary Captains Neil and Tiana Henderson and reinstated officer Lieutenant Rae Evans each received their Diploma in Christian Studies (Level 5), having completed one year of individualised study to prepare them for their respective appointments.
There were three recipients of the Certificate of Salvation Army Youth Work Training: Jeremiah Tafea, Raymond Tuala and Youth Graduate speaker, Lisa Gatward, who spoke about her formative experiences in youth development.
Lieutenant Michal Baken was awarded a Laidlaw Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Major David Moody received a Child Matters Diploma in Child Protections and Major Glenys Fairhurst completed a Bachelor of Theology through the University of Otago.
In Tonga, Lieutenant Betty Akotea received a Diploma in Social Practice (Level 6) from Tupou Tertiary Institute.
Guest speaker, Major Doctor Kathy Crombie encouraged the cadets to reflect on the skills they had learned at BCM, the importance of living in their God-given identity and their call to lead the church and ‘re-present’ Jesus to the world.
Silver Star Brunch
The Silver Star Brunch, held on the morning of Commissioning, is an opportunity for cadets to share a meal with their parents, and designated spiritual parents, to thank them for their role in the cadets’ journeys to officership.
Proceedings were led by Silver Star Secretary Captain Denise Daly, while Territorial President of Women’s Ministries Commissioner Julie Campbell shared the history of the Silver Star and presented the Silver Star alongside the soon-to-be-commissioned cadets.
Each cadet had the opportunity to personally honour their parents before calling them up to receive their Silver Stars.
Cadet speaker, Chris Moody, took the opportunity to address not only his own parents, but also the other parents of cadets in his speech. In a touching moment, he also thanked Aux Captains Neil and Tiana Henderson (originally from South Africa) by speaking to them in Afrikaans and acknowledging them as the ‘campus parents’ of their session.
Three sets of parents were able to attend in person, with Cadet Ben Willis’s parents joining in via livestream from Queensland, Australia—eating breakfast while the New Zealanders enjoyed brunch.
‘There were people who were brand new to The Salvation Army, to the faith environment, as well as Salvation Army generational heritage represented in that room,’ says Territorial Secretary for Communications Lt-Colonel Michelle Collins. ‘What makes each [Silver Star Brunch] unique is the dynamic of who’s present.’
Julie spoke to all of the parents about the meaning of releasing their children to the life of Salvation Army officership, and acknowledged her ‘affinity in reverse’ for Ben’s parents, as she knew what it felt like to miss out on family events, with her own children living in Australia.
Neil and Tiana accepted the Silver Star on behalf of Ben’s parents, which spoke to the closeness they shared with the Messengers of Reconciliation at the BCM campus in 2021.
Long Service Order Recognition Dinner
On Saturday 11 December, officers from around the territory—whether in person or joining via livestream—were recognised for reaching a significant milestone of years of service as Salvation Army officers.
Major Glenda Bezzant and Major Glenys Fairhurst were honoured for their 40 years of service as officers in The Salvation Army, along with Majors Heather and Thomas Kopu and Colonel Wynne Reddish who were recognised for 40 years of continuous service.
Glenys then shared that when she was called to serve The Salvation Army, she felt God hint that before she committed to the journey, she needed to be prepared to serve as a single officer. This prepared her for the last ten years of a new season of officership, following the death of her husband Dean.
‘I was still God’s soldier, but there was a new way to walk with Jesus,’ she said.
Celebrating her milestone of 25 years of service, Major Linda Bateman testified to how her first calling in life could be found in the Bible, in the words of Matthew 22 ‘...Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.
‘This is the ultimate calling on my life—love God, and love others. It just so happens that I get to work out this calling in my role as a Salvation Army officer,’ she said.
In total, twenty-two officers were recognised for various milestones of service, from 25 to 40 years, with 680 years of combined service between them.
Saturday 11 December will be a much-remembered day for the 2021 Messengers of Reconciliation—Ngā Karere o te Maungārongo, who were commissioned and ordained at Hutt City Corps.
Cadet Ben Willis shared his testimony as a representative of the cadets being ordained and commissioned. He spoke about God’s call on his life and the effect that overseas ministry had on him from an early age, through Teen Missions.
After acknowledging family members and friends from across the country, who were unable to be with them but who were watching over the livestream, he talked warmly about his friendship with his session mates, including his and Cadet Chris Moody’s antics during their study together.
Ben also considered how his time at BCM has equipped him for officership. ‘One of the great things about college is the opportunity to develop good practices that will hopefully continue down the line. Some would say that college gets you to self-reflect a bit too much … But, it’s been a very helpful practice to develop. I’ve seen the benefits of reflection in our marriage, in our sessional friendships and in my own practice as well.’
From a pre-recorded video, General Brian and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle expressed their joy and blessings to the cadets on their special day and urged them to recognise the importance of their role as Messengers of Reconciliation. The General noted that as they are commissioned and appointed, the territory ‘releases you into a broken, hurting and fragmented world that desperately needs your ministry of reconciliation’.
BCM Principal Major Garth Stevenson expressed admiration for this year’s cadets, in the ways they have taken on ‘every opportunity for personal growth in knowledge, skills and spirit’ and met the unique challenges of the last two years with ‘grace and good humour’.
Garth then presented to the audience the Messengers of Reconciliation. They then said their affirmation of faith, and BCM symbolically returned the cadets to the territorial leaders, Commissioners Mark and Julie Campbell, for the service of The Salvation Army.
Mark and Julie then commissioned and ordained the cadets, and offered them verses of encouragement.
This year, Neil and Tiana Henderson were also promoted to the rank of auxiliary captains.
Commissioner Mark Campbell encouraged the newly commissioned Lieutenants and Auxiliary Captains with Paul’s words, from 2 Corinthians 5:11–21, on the ministry of reconciliation. Mark reminded those attending, as well as those watching the livestream, of the importance of Missio Dei and how we model this ministry of reconciliation through the proclamation and imitation of Jesus Christ.
He reflected on the two models of vertical and horizontal reconciliation: the vertical helping others understand and accept that God is reconciling the world to himself, and the horizontal being the way we encourage others towards reconciliation by being the first to offer it.
This year’s recipients of the Long Service Awards were acknowledged by Territorial Secretary for Personnel Captain Pauleen Richards. She also acknowledged the soon-to-retire Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries and Spiritual Life Development Colonel Heather Rodwell. She thanked her for her service, particularly her contribution to the executive leadership team.