26 February 2014

THE Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William Roberts) was joined by General John Larsson (Rtd) and Commissioner Freda Larsson, General Shaw Clifton (Rtd) and other guests at a valedictory service to mark the conclusion of 63 years of officer development at the International College for Officers' current location at The Cedars, Sydenham Hill in south London. The work of the ICO and Centre for Spiritual Life Development will continue at the newly renovated Sunbury Court, to the west of London, in April. The event was also the farewell meeting for the college's 220th session.

The current principal of the ICO, Lieut-Colonel Allan Hofer, welcomed the Chief of the Staff and World Secretary for Women's Ministries Commissioner Nancy Roberts, International Headquarters staff and other guests representing various aspects of life and ministry at the college. The principal's report was followed by the presentation of certificates to the 22 international delegates and two translators of the session. Commissioner Nancy Roberts offered a dedicatory prayer for the session, which had spent six weeks at The Cedars in study, prayer, reflection and fellowship.

A former principal, Commissioner Margaret Sutherland, read a poem by Commissioner Keith Banks, 'Surely the Lord is in this Place'. Originally written for the valedictory service at Balvonie, The Salvation Army's conference centre in Scotland, a new stanza about The Cedars had been added by Commissioner Banks for the occasion.

General John Larsson (Rtd) led the assembled company in singing a medley of lively songs before the Chief of the Staff gave the valedictory address. The Chief of the Staff noted that since the opening of the then 'International Staff College' at The Cedars in 1950 almost 6,000 officer delegates had attended the college during sessions held four times a year. He reminded all gathered that in farewells and relocation we do well not to forget the Lord.

Upper Norwood Band had provided the music for the opening ceremony on 10 October 1950 when General Albert Orsborn dedicated The Cedars to the glory of God, so it was fitting that a brass ensemble from Upper Norwood played at the valedictory service.

Lieut-Colonel Fiona Hofer paid tribute to the staff at The Cedars. Those present were representative of many who have provided the practical and administrative support, such as housekeeping and catering, which have been a blessing to the delegates.

General Shaw Clifton (Rtd) pronounced the benediction before everyone moved outside for the flag retrieval ceremony. The brass ensemble played 'O Boundless Salvation' as the ICO flag was solemnly retrieved and presented to the Chief of the Staff in anticipation of the flag breaking ceremony when the next ICO session is welcomed to Sunbury Court later this year.

Report by Lieut-Colonel Jayne Roberts
International Headquarters