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Feb8MonCandidates Fellowship has been reimagined to better help Salvationists explore God’s call. February 8, 2021 by Major Jennifer Hale
At a young age, I knew that God had placed a call on my life for Salvation Army officership. I was enrolled as a senior soldier at the age of 14 and eagerly awaited my 15th birthday so that I could enrol in the Candidates Fellowship. I continue to be grateful for the way in which my corps officers and local leaders invested in me in those formative years. They were patient with me through the ups and downs of my teenage journey while also pointing out my gifts and giving me opportunities to test my call through various opportunities in the corps. I watched my corps officers, now Lt-Colonels Eddie and Genevera Vincent, with eagerness as they led Sunday meetings and provided pastoral and spiritual leadership to our corps and community. It was under their leadership and influence that I was enrolled as a soldier and became a member of the Candidates Fellowship.
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The Candidates Fellowship was a place of connection where I was able to interact with my divisional youth secretaries and other like-minded individuals who were also exploring God’s call on their lives for officership. Now, 25 years later, it’s been my privilege to work with our team of divisional secretaries for candidates across the territory to reimagine the Candidates Fellowship and to officially launch a new expression of this important ministry: Candidates Connect.
Candidates Connect was birthed out of some strategic thinking in February 2020 when we identified four strategic priorities to help us continue our momentum in officer recruitment. It will exist to create space for individuals exploring God’s call on their lives for ministry in The Salvation Army and provide opportunity to discern if officership is the avenue to obediently respond. Individuals will be able to experience community while engaging in intentional spiritual growth and development. The foundation and mission of Candidates Connect have been captured in the following three pillars:
1. Building Character
Candidates Connect will actively develop spiritual maturity, practical faith, and holiness of life and witness of the members. The Orders and Regulations for the Training of Salvation Army Officers notes the importance of “discipleship— expressed in spiritual growth, character formation and Salvationist identification.”
One of the goals of Candidates Connect will be to facilitate and further the discipleship of its members through opportunities, such as mentoring, small group Bible study and other helps for discerning God’s call. In a lecture at the recent Officership Information Weekend, Major Andrew Morgan, training principal at the College for Officer Training, gave this word of encouragement to all delegates: “If we are going to be good leaders, Salvation Army officers, we must be paying attention to our character and our holiness and spiritual health.”
Candidates Connect will actively develop spiritual maturity, practical faith and holiness of life.2.Building Capacity
Candidates Connect will actively develop the practical, academic and leadership skills, and knowledge base of members. This will be facilitated through various leadership opportunities in the context of the local corps and perhaps even some service opportunities in your division. The goal will be to give individuals as much experience as possible to prepare them for training as officers.
3. Building Community
Candidates Connect will actively develop comradery and fellowship among members through their shared experience of exploring God’s call on their lives. Our hope is that you will find a place of belonging and friendship, where you can be sharpened as you interact with others on a similar journey.
This framework will be the means by which the purpose of Candidates Connect will be accomplished. Each division has taken time to vision and plan the implementation of the framework in their contexts. Divisional secretaries for candidates will be communicating next steps and inviting you to join in these new efforts through prayer, partnership or participation.
Is Candidates Connect For You?
The language of building has been intentionally chosen to emphasize that God’s call and the consideration of Salvation Army officership is a process. Joining Candidates Connect in your division does not mean that you already have all the skills and experience needed to enter officer training; neither does it mean that you have fully resolved that officership is the way forward for your life. But it does mean that you are open to God’s leading in your life, specifically as it relates to officership, and that you are interested in learning, growing and developing to that end.
Candidates Connect is more than a simple rebranding or relaunch of an existing program. Rather, it is an intentional effort to engage with one another as together we explore the best way to fulfil God’s purpose in our lives and our role as Salvationists in carrying out the mission to share the love of Jesus, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities in which we live. As Candidates Connect launches, we invite you to join us in this exciting journey.
For more information on Candidates Connect visit SACandidates.ca.
Major Jennifer Hale is the secretary for candidates and assistant territorial children and youth secretary for Canada and Bermuda.
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