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Covenant Day – an event of deep spiritual meaning for the cadets

Territorial Commander Commissioner Miriam Gluyas with the five cadets on Covenant Day.

The ordination and commissioning of cadets is always a high point and much-anticipated event in the yearly calendar of The Salvation Army.

But there’s one special and sacred event that few have the opportunity to witness before the public events that holds a deep and special meaning for cadets – Covenant Day.

It’s the sacred step that precedes ordination and commissioning in the process of becoming a commissioned officer in The Salvation Army.

The Covenant Day luncheon with the cadets.

“Covenant Day is a sacred occasion when each cadet signs their Officers Covenant before God,” said Kylie Herring, Leader of Officer Formation at Eva Burrows College.

“In this moment, cadets are making a sacred agreement with God – they are accepting God’s call on their life, they are accepting a life of sacred service as a minister of the gospel in The Salvation Army.”

Kylie further explained what happened in the week leading into Covenant Day. On the Tuesday, the Territorial Commander (TC) meets with the cadets being commissioned and talks through the Officer Undertakings so they are fully aware of what they are agreeing to and the spiritual nature of the relationship between them and The Salvation Army. The Officer Undertakings must be signed by each cadet prior to Covenant Day.

On the Wednesday, the cadets and OFS team have a retreat day, where the significance of call and covenant is prayerfully considered.

Covenant Day then takes place on the Thursday. All the cadets being commissioned gather with ongoing cadets, the officer formation staff and senior leaders in The Salvation Army.

“It’s a very intimate, sacred and reflective space,” Kylie said.

“The cadets make their covenant declarations and are invited to sign their covenant, which the TC and the Leader of Officer Formation sign in witness. Following the service, we share a meal together, then depart to prepare for the commissioning and ordination events.”

After ordination, the newly commissioned officers participate in a five-year development program. They gather with their fellow officers for peer support and to reflect on their journey at the end of their first, third and fifth years. There are certain professional development requirements to complete within the five years, and at that point, if those requirements have been completed, they will receive a promotion from Lieutenant to Captain.

Ongoing professional pastoral supervision is a requirement for officers and provides important support to new officers, providing a regular opportunity to de-brief, discuss challenges and joys, and review how they are integrating their learning with their ministry practice.

When asked to describe a main challenge for the newly commissioned ministers, Kylie remarked it was getting their heads around all the systems of the Army, the procedures, processes and responsibilities.

Captain Kylie Herring with Cadet Vikki Song.

“Corps officership is challenging because of the multiple accountabilities that come with the role,” she said.

“You are responsible for leading and developing a faith community, for equipping leaders and mentoring emerging leaders, for assisting community members needing emergency relief, for oversighting community programs, for developing relationships and partnerships in the local community, for line managing staff, oversighting volunteers, for keeping buildings and premises in good shape and managing all the risk and compliance landscape.

“There are more things that could be added to the list - but you can see in that list the scope of responsibility and accountability. It can feel overwhelming to new officers commencing their first appointments because of the complexity of holding all those pieces and learning how all those pieces are in the flow of a week, month, or year in that location.”

And one of the great joys?

“The affirmation they receive on their commissioning,” Kylie said.

“That The Salvation Army is saying to each of them - we believe in you! We recognise you as a minister of the gospel. We believe you can do this and that you are ready to step into your appointment.”


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