Commissioning weekend is always a demanding event in the calendar of the Territorial Music Department. This year’s extravaganza – “A Cross, The World” was no exception. The Disciples of the Cross session were Ordained and Commissioned as new Lieutenants in The Salvation Army, and music & the creative arts played an important part of every meeting.
This year seemed to be “amped up” more than usual. It was not a Congress, but it looked very much like one! The General, Andre Cox, and Commissioner Silvia Cox were in attendance, a Territorial Officer’s Councils was held prior to the weekend, a new Territorial Youth Band was formed, ensembles were required for Officer’s Councils, Long Service luncheon, Men’s Rally, and the Women’s Rally, the Territorial Band, Songsters, Creative Arts and transMission all collaborated on large-scale production numbers that contributed significantly the weekend.
The weekend began on Wednesday with arrivals of the Territorial Band, Songsters, and Creative Arts members. Intensive rehearsals followed – interrupted only by a fellowship meal and a chance to catch up. Thursday included rehearsals at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (CEPAC) in Marietta, GA. In the evening the re-formed Territorial Youth Band arrived and commenced late night sectional rehearsals with members of the Territorial Band.
The Commencement service was held at Atlanta Temple on Friday morning, supported by the Territorial Band, while the Territorial Youth band continued their rehearsal schedule. Friday afternoon rehearsals were followed by a Soldier’s meeting that included a sensitive opening production “The Cross” featuring various soloists (vocal, flute, violin, viola, flugel, horn, guitar) and the Territorial music forces and transMission. The evening concluded with all groups coming together for “The World for God” – a favorite transMission adaptation from the Salvation Army song book. During the Friday night service Marty Mikles was honored for “over a decade of high quality worship music.”
The Youth Band was re-formed at the request of Major Art Penhale (Territorial Youth Secretary), and funded by the Adult Rehabilitation Center Command (Lt. Colonel Mark Bell). The band, which had last existed 30 years ago, was drawn from young people aged 14-25 from all Divisions in the Southern Territory, recommended by their Divisional Music Directors. The band had roughly 6 hours to rehearse together before performing ten pieces in the Saturday morning meeting! The band was thrilled to learn on Saturday morning that Commissioner Donald Bell (Territorial Commander) had approved them to attend the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, January 2, 2015. This was a wonderful surprise for the young people, who had come together as a band just hours before!
The Youth band took center stage on Saturday morning playing “Shine as the Light” (Graham) as their main performance piece. Territorial Music Secretary Nick Simmons-Smith and Dr. Leon Kirkpatrick (Territorial Music Department) took them through their paces. Other items included “Fanfare of Praise,” “Daniel,” “Lift up your voice,” “The Red Shield,” and “Celebration.”
The Territorial Creative Arts team performed a major work on Saturday morning: “The Shema.” This was created by Roberta Simmons-Smith and focused in on Deuteronomy 6: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ The piece looked at how the Christian message has been diluted and ignored over the course of history, and the need for us to impress the message upon our children.
The Territorial Songsters, under the leadership of Wendy Hood, were featured in a Southern Gospel number “Shout Glory” on Saturday evening and combined effectively with the Creative Arts team, the Territorial Band, and the School for Officer Training on the Saturday finale: “They Shall Come from the East” (arranged by Kevin Larsson). All cast members (including percussionists) were dressed in white as the countries of the world “entered Heaven” in a triumphant finale. The finale was a fitting end to a wonderful, but busy, day that had also included three rallies, a Long-service luncheon, and many more rehearsals!
Sunday was focused on the Cadets of the Training College as they solemnly accepted their Commission as Salvation Army Officers. The Band and Songsters supported the worship services and included a wonderful arrangement of “When I survey the wondrous cross” for male voices and trombones by Captain Sally Broughton, “Here at the Cross” (Curnow), “Before the Cross” (Gregson – soloist Jamie Hood), and “For our Transgressions” (Calvert).
General Andre Cox was very complimentary about the support given by the Music forces of the Territory throughout the weekend. The weekend was greatly enhanced by the ministry of transMission (Marty Mikles), Territorial Band and Youth Band (Nick Simmons-Smith), Territorial Songsters (Wendy Hood), and the Territorial Creative Arts Ensemble (Roberta Simmons-Smith). These faithful musicians and creative artists understood their role in such a busy weekend, and undoubtedly were used by the Holy Spirit to bless and challenge those in attendance (and watching on the webcast) at the Commissioning weekend.
* Commissioning weekend is when Salvation Army ministers are ordained, and then given “appointments” anywhere in the Southern Territory of the USA.
** You can watch webcasts of the all the Commissioning meetings at www.southernspiritonline.org/sessions/
*** To see more photos from this special weekend, click here.