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Mar16FriKerri Cryderman is modelling soldiership for the next generation. March 16, 2018 by Ken Ramstead
"I didn’t become a soldier because all my friends were doing it,” says Kerri Cryderman, a senior soldier at Saskatoon Temple who has recently taken on the post of corps sergeant-major. “I’ve always felt that God was calling me to soldiership, even when I didn’t know it.”
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Born to Salvationist parents, Cryderman’s family moved from Huntsville, Ont., to Saskatoon via Edmonton. “Growing up, I naturally became a junior soldier,” she says. “I don’t think I really thought about not being one.”
When asked why, Cryderman recalls her fondest memories, such as the trips her family took to travel back to Ontario for Christmas.
“As a child, I’d get to help with the hamper distribution, because in a small town corps, everyone pitches in, so I’d help pack sunshine bags surrounded by my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—all Salvationists. Growing up surrounded by extended family, I felt nurtured. Back at home in our church in Saskatoon, I was mentored by some amazing individuals who were not only strong in their spiritual walk but in leadership as well. I had authentic believers all around me, so I never wavered in my decision to become a senior soldier when I turned 16.”
Seeing living examples of soldiership in action all around her made becoming a soldier a natural step.
A Beautiful Thing
This does not mean that Cryderman never pondered the implications of her decision.
“As I’ve gotten older and matured, I’ve come to realize that soldiership is about covenant—making covenant for the right reasons and being sure of it.”
Her corps officer agrees. “Kerri speaks of, and exemplifies, covenantal living,” says Lieutenant Dusty Sauder. “Besides leading worship and delivering meals to the elderly of the corps, she disciples teens heading into soldiership.”
“Whenever I get into conversations about soldiership with them and why I am a soldier,” Cryderman continues, “it leads to the word covenant. The main point I always make is that they shouldn’t become a soldier just to be part of a group or because they want to join the band or because it’s expected of them.
“When we think about entering into covenant—that decision to become a soldier and what it means to covenant with God—it’s a big deal and we need to take it seriously. First, it needs to be our choice. Second, we need to understand what covenant looks like, how beautiful and rich it can be. Third, if we fall, there’s grace at the cross, and so we have the opportunity to continually be in covenant with God. That’s the beautiful thing about it.”
The Right Decision
Cryderman immensely enjoys the soldiership classes she teaches.
“I love seeing the hunger in these young people, the excitement that they have about this relationship with the Lord, the yearning to be closer to him,” she smiles. But her favourite part of the junior soldier classes are the one-on-one times spent with the young people to ensure that this is their decision, that there’s no expectation on anybody else’s part, that they truly understand the promise they’re making.
“I want to make absolutely sure that they know what they’re getting into, and that they’re sure of it,” she says.
Is officership in Cryderman’s future?
As it happens, she’s been contemplating that next step now more than ever.
“But I’m still grappling with that,” she says. “There are lots of things about full-time ministry that intrigue me. But I also firmly believe in local leadership, that there’s a value around serving and supporting officers.”
Lieutenant Sauder agrees with her assessment. “Kerri is a voice for the corps and an ever-ready support to her officers,” he says. “Last year, she was heavily involved with the strategic planning for the temple and will be integral in its implementation. She is blessed to be a blessing.”
“I’m still on my journey of faith,” Cryderman says, “and becoming an officer just might be the next step for me.”