Graduation Representative Speech

General and Commissioner Cox, Commissioners Tidd, members of the cabinet, Representatives from the University of Divinity, Training Principal Major Geoff Webb, Training College officers and staff, cadets, officers, soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army.

In January 2012, 26 new cadets entered the Salvation Army Training College in Royal Pde, Parkville. We came from many, varied backgrounds: a primary school principal, a music store owner, multiple it workers, a podiatrist, customer service rep, a child support worker, various positions from what my mother-in-law calls the bang-bang army; and more. We came from many different countries – from Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Sudan – though while we were in college Dit’s homeland became South Sudan. We lost one last year, when Paul was commissioned as a Proclaimer of the Resurrection, to return to start his ministry in Taiwan, and one this year who, in her words, “the training college don’t want to let go of as they’d be lost without her.” We gained 2 Envoys who have heard God’s call to this next step in their ministry, and so we stand before you as 26 cadets, soon to be among the newest Salvation Army officers in this worldwide Army.

Over the past two years, we have learnt many skills that will help us start off in our ministry. We’ve studied the old and new testaments, and our theological heritage in the spirituality and holiness traditions of Wesley. We’ve learnt the basics of the Minute Book, Finance One, SAMIS, and the “blessings” that come with them. We have had practical ministry training in both corps and social settings. Some of us even had the opportunity to minister to asylum seekers in Australia’s Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. After all our training, we are now going to be ordained, commissioned, and sent out all over Australia to take up our cross, and further the work of the kingdom of God.

As a session, we never want to stop learning. The skills and thoughts we have learnt here should be at the cutting edge of what we need as officers. The cutting edge today is the accepted wisdom in 5 years, and out of date in 10 – if not earlier. Therefore, we need to keep learning, so that we can keep getting exposed to the latest thoughts, ideas and skills that will keep us at the forefront of ministry. We will read books, go to conferences, enroll in further formal education courses, whatever works, and above all, we will base it all in a strong and ever growing knowledge of the Bible.

That being said, we are a fun session, and we look forward to taking that fun and joy into our appointments. At some stage in our lives, we have as a combined session lived in every state in Australia, and we are being sent out all over the country – to every division except one, and that’s OK, because our training principal is heading there. I don’t know what He is saying about us that he didn’t want any of us in his division. I also don’t think he had any sway in sending the two biggest pranksters as far away as possible. And with that said, I think the only way I can finish this off is with a few choice words from the incomparable Dr Seuss.

Congratulations! Today is your day!
You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you chose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the [person] who’ll decide where to go.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The places you’ll go!

 You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So be your name Ashmore or Innes or Lee,
Or Ronald (MacDonald) And Amy Stobie
You’re off to great places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting. So… Get on your way!

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Author: Ben Clapton

I'm an Officer in The Salvation Army, currently appointed with my wife as Corps Officers at the Rochester Corps in country Victoria (20 minutes out of Echuca). I play violin and guitar, amongst many others, and love golf and running.

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