8 July 2022

Commissioning preview: celebrating the session that started in a lockdown

Lieut-Colonel Judith Payne

Video message from Lieut-Colonel Judith Payne
Lieut-Colonel Judith Payne looks ahead to the Commissioning of the Messengers of Reconciliation.

It was my pleasure to welcome viewers to the live-streamed Commissioning at William Booth College in 2020 and 2021 while we were under Covid-19 restrictions. It is going to be a real joy this year for me to welcome people to Commissioning as part of the Together 2022 event in Birmingham. Commissioning will be on the morning of Sunday 17 July and you are welcome to share through a livestream if you are unable to join us in person.

Ten cadets will be commissioned as officers this year and appointed to various places across the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory.

Someone asked me recently if I was a little disheartened because there were just 10 people being commissioned. I had to reply that I was in fact really encouraged.

I asked the person to cast their mind back to a time nearly two and a half years ago when the majority of the country was in the first big lockdown due to the global pandemic. Many people were extremely fearful, hospitals and medical teams were overwhelmed, schools were closed, people were furloughed and companies were going out of business. Tragically, people were dying in countries around the world and no one knew what the future held.

In the midst of this chaos, when life itself was almost on hold, there were 10 people for whom online worship in their pyjamas with a cup of coffee was not enough; they heard and responded to God’s call.

These people contacted their Salvation Army leaders and made it clear that God still wanted them to go forward in response to his calling to be officers. They went through assessments during lockdown, with all that these involved. They left their workplaces, homes and schools, unable to meet and say goodbye to colleagues and friends in person. They left their home corps with no public farewells and arrived at the college in London with no public welcome.

Almost at once these 10 cadets went into a lockdown training programme in their small flats, missing out on practical placements and the usual fellowship shared. They were even unable to take part in singing and praying with others in person. The first time we were able to sing together was months after they arrived, when we went into the grounds of WBC, knelt on the damp ground and prayed: ‘Spirit of the living God,/ Fall afresh on me.’ And he did, as he always does!

A group photo of the Messengers of Reconciliation
The Messengers of Reconciliation

During one of the most challenging times of this century 10 people were willing to see the needs of others, listen to God’s call and obey – just like the fishermen that Jesus first called. The Bible says: ‘Immediately they left their nets and followed him’ (Mark 1:18 Revised Standard Version). These were the ordinary men – joined by other ordinary men and women – willing to hear and follow Jesus. Initially they were few in number, but they changed the world.

So, am I disheartened by a small number this year? Not at all! I am encouraged and delighted to have been part of their journey into ministry and I know that God will use them to change this world through his love and through the ministry of reconciliation to which they are called.

Please pray for each of them as they approach this special time and take up their appointments and lives of service. I believe that God will use their Commissioning to encourage and inspire us all. May we also find the courage not only to listen to God’s call but also respond and step out in his name and in love.

Written by

Lieut-Colonel Judith Payne

Lieut-Colonel Judith Payne

Principal, William Booth College

Watch the Commissioning livestream

Join Salvationists across the territory on Sunday 17 July at 10.30am on our YouTube channel and cheer on the Messengers of Reconciliation.

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A weekend of worship and celebration for everyone linked to The Salvation Army.

Here to serve and support all those in the territory who are exploring God's calling.

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DFL is a weekend retreat at William Booth College to help you discern God's calling.