Eastern Territory Staff Songsters
When the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters met together at Territorial Headquarters in February of 2020 to record tracks for an upcoming Christmas album (Let There Be Light, released on 1 December 2020), there was every indication that our ministry season would unfold in the usual way. But within a few weeks of our get-together we found ourselves in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown. Across the territory and around the country, Salvation Army music programs began to close down in accordance with local, state, and federal laws. While many hoped that this would be nothing more than an unwelcome and brief interruption, we saw in fact that it was the beginning of a new normal – a new way of existing, living with the threat of the virus ever before us.
Like countless others, ETSS was impacted by these changes. For the first time in Salvation Army history, commissioning was virtual and we could not send out our beloved cadets with singing and praise. Our weekend ministry at Old Orchard Beach (OOB) was also cancelled, which caused some pain given the fact that OOB was the first place we performed as a group back in 2005, making 2020 our fifteenth anniversary. It was a difficult year to say the least. But as believers in Christ, we know that hope remains.
God will make a way, and He has made a way! Still unable to meet in person, in the fall of last year we got together virtually via Zoom. Our new songster leader, Erik Jones, had the challenging job of teaching us new music in an online setting – a task he performed admirably. We have also met (virtually) in early February, with the hopes of having a limited in-person weekend rehearsal in March to prepare for commissioning. While we’re not totally back to normal yet we can at long last see a path before us.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the following members who are farewelling from ETSS: Chelsea Rice (2015), Ben Clarke (2017) and Eric Dina (2019). We bid a fond farewell to our Executive Officer, Lt. Colonel Patricia LaBossiere (2019) and thank her for her exceptional service and pastoral care given to our group.
As mentioned before, we’re excited to see our singing ministry grow and thrive under the leadership of Songster Leader Erik Jones (2005) – a founding member of the brigade! We welcome back Lily Finikin (2012) as pianist and extend a warm greeting to our new Executive Officer, Lt. Colonel Raphael Jackson. Lt. Colonel Jackson is the Assistant Chief Secretary and Racial Diversity and Inclusion Secretary. We look forward to the spiritual and administrative leadership he will provide.
Don’t forget to follow our group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ETSS2005) and continue to pray for the ministry of the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters.