09 November 2016

GENERAL André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) travelled to the USA Western Territory for the public farewell and retirement ceremony of territorial leaders Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs. Nearly 1,000 Salvationists and friends from across the territory joined the international leaders at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts in southern California to thank the commissioners for more than 40 years of service as Salvation Army officers, including the past six in charge of the USA Western Territory. The couple officially retire on 31 December. 

The event featured many soldiers, officers and family members who have been influenced by the Knaggses, starting with a reading of Psalm 103 by family and friends. Later, the couple's sons, Jon and Jason, gave a warm and humorous reflection on life in the Knaggs household, including examples of how the family members encouraged each other in life and in their faith.

Colonel Colleen Riley, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries, said: 'We are grateful to God for leaders who have been willing to stand up for Christ, and who have been willing to challenge us to "show up to work", to stand in the gap for others, and to stand victoriously with those who have been saved.'

The General presented the Knaggses with their retirement certificates and Commissioner Silvia Cox offered a prayer of blessing over them.

'It’s great to know great people,' said the General. 'Not only have you been a great influence to your family, but a great influence on The Salvation Army as well. I thank God that there are leaders like you in The Salvation Army with vision, daring and a "can do" attitude – those who go boldly because Christ calls us to win the world for him.'

During their tenure, Commissioners Knaggs led the opening of 15 new corps (churches), saw the attendance of Sunday morning meetings pass 1,000,000 per year, commissioned 290 officers, and hosted the first-ever Count Me In event to connect 5,100 adult rehabilitation centre beneficiaries with corps members. Commissioner James Knaggs is currently the Senior Commissioner – the longest-serving commissioner – of the international Salvation Army with certain constitutional responsibilities as laid out in The Salvation Army Act (1980). He will hold this position until his actual retirement date.

In his message from Ephesians 3, Commissioner James Knaggs urged everyone present to allow Christ to dwell in their hearts through faith. 'My prayer is that God would strengthen you with power in your inner being,' he said, 'and that you would grasp how wide, deep and high is his love. I pray that you would be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God.'

The international leaders spent Sunday at Pasadena Tabernacle Corps with corps officers Captains Terry and Rutendo Masango, participating in worship and an afternoon Thanksgiving Festival of Music presented by the Pasadena Tabernacle Band and Songsters.

The General enrolled a junior soldier, an adherent and four senior soldiers in the morning meeting before preaching on the change that God expects.

'If we do just the serving bit we cannot bring about lasting change and transformation as it is God’s Spirit that brings transformation,' he said. 'He doesn't expect us to coast along and bring a Christmas wish list. We are a people who believe in transformation because we've experienced it ourselves.

'We are all but a work in progress. As we work, God wants to work in us as he is still in the process of making change in us. Because of Christ we can experience change and transformation.'

An altar call led to many people moving forward to kneel at the mercy seat.

The retirement celebration was streamed via Facebook Live and can be watched again at sar.my/pfkstream

Report by Christin Thieme

Tags: Americas and Caribbean, The General