October 4-7, 2018
Amidst the glitz and glamor of midtown Manhattan, the quiet grey thoroughfares of Paterson, New Jersey, and the bustling eclectic streets of Brooklyn, New York, stand three buildings. Most people would likely pass them by with their bricked non-descript facades and metal doors. But to the people who live inside them, these buildings are a safe haven – a refuge of hope in an unfriendly world. The Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) are among the most cherished of ministries within The Salvation Army. They truly represent what The Army was founded on: a place where both the physical and spiritual needs of men and women are met.
It was the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters’ privilege to minister to the men and women of the Manhattan, Paterson, and Brooklyn ARCs during our ARC Ministry Weekend. ETSS members gathered for a day and a half of rehearsals at Territorial Headquarters in West Nyack, New York. It was especially wonderful to rehearse in the newly renovated bandroom of the NYSB and to enjoy fellowship with one another as we learned some new songs and refreshed our memory on some of the more familiar pieces in our repertoire. Then we set out on the road to our three destinations, excited to share the gift of music with the ARC residents and staff.
The performances were lively, heartfelt and most importantly – worshipful. Major Beth Muhs (Manhattan ARC) in making her closing remarks, said, “You’ve brought us worship, and we can’t thank you enough for that.” A highlight for many of the songsters were those moments when ARC residents would join us in the singing of songs such as, “This is Amazing Grace”, and “How Great is Our God”. Those ARC chapels came alive with praise and worship!
Songsters shared their testimonies at every meeting and our Executive Officer, Lt. Colonel Renee Lance shared the Word of God offering encouragement and hope to the ARC faith community. Another great highlight was premiering the piece, “I Have Need, Lord”, with lyrics by Commissioner Harry Read (R) and music by our very own, S/L Gavin Whitehouse. It was a fantastic weekend with opportunities for sharing the Gospel while enjoying rich fellowship with God’s people.
Lt. Madeline Bates, program administrator for the Brooklyn ARC let us know that the men were still talking about our Sunday morning worship service well into the week. What a testimony to the power of Christian music to transcend suffering and to uplift the human spirit. To God be the glory!
Looking back on the 2017-2018 season there were many great highlights, but two especially come to mind. In March, we took our first international trip to Barbados (Caribbean Territory) to sing and to assist the Salvationists of that territory with some service projects. Then at the appointment service during commissioning in Hershey, PA, the territorial leaders, Commissioners William and Lorraine Bamford, gave us the designation of Staff Songsters. This was a great honor and caused us to humbly reflect on the group’s impact across the territory since our inception in 2005. We are blessed when we consider where God has taken our ministry and we are excited to think about where He will take us in the future. During this season, we said farewell to ETSS members Richard Lopez (2011), Ian Anderson (2014), and founding member Dave Cornish (2005). Thank you, gentleman, for your years of faithful ministry to the songsters.
Looking now to the 2018-2019 season, along with celebrating the new ‘S’ in our name, we welcome percussionist Cashus Saydee to the group. Captain Tim Sheehan (2nd tenor) and Rob Jeffery (tenor) have taken on new roles as ETSS Public Relations Secretary and Communications Secretary, respectively.
In February 2019, ETSS will be travelling to Puerto Rico (PRVI Division) for a weekend of musical ministry. We invite your prayers for this trip that God will use our ministry to bless the hearts of His people.
If you are a Salvationist who likes to glorify God through music, consider joining us. Check out our ETSS application page (http://music.saconnects.org/etss/etss-application-form/). It may be just the thing God is calling you to do!
ETSS Communications Secretary