We arrived at Star Lake Camp on Thursday evening ready for a long night of practice and putting together the final touches for our long anticipated trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania. We had been invited to join in a ten year celebration of the Corps at Worthington Woods, stopping by Aliquippa on the way to encourage the corps folk there. As the combined musical and arts forces traveled for hours in two coaches we were all happy to be greeted in Aliquippa, Western Pennsylvania at the Salvation Army Corps.
With everyone tired from sitting on the bus, we quickly changed into uniforms and ate so that we could head to the concert venue and begin a wonderful evening of ministry through music, dance, drama and timbrels. After a rousing start from the band (Make His Praise Glorious) the Youth Chorus surrounded the audience and vocally asked the Holy Spirit to flood the place and fill the atmosphere a song that really set the tone for the weekend.
The Drama team reprised there successful performance of “Ally in Allyland” a spiritual take on Alice in Wonderland where the Lord was continually knocking on the door of Ally’s heart as she struggled with who or what to allow to sit on the throne of her life. The dance team shimmered with poise as the performed to the beautiful song “Grace.” Commissioner Israel Gaither brought an amazing and thought provoking message using all the items on the program to bring the thought that we are to “Make his Praise Glorious” because “God is Good”- All the time!
Shortly after the message, the Greater New York Youth Band under the leadership of Christopher Ward was able to partner with the Aliquippa young brass players in an exciting joint performance of a Welsh lullaby entitled “Suo Gan” under the leadership of Bandmaster Brian Cook.
The next day we were all so excited for the next part of our trip, we had several members of the group skip breakfast and get extra sleep to be ready for the long trip to Ohio! Finally, we arrived in Ohio-The Chapel at Worthington Woods, with beautiful skies, colorful wildlife and all-around friendly people. We got to meet many of the children of the community and perform a mini-concert for them at their block party with dance, drama, singing, banding and exciting timbrels.
Also, a part of the concert was a breathtaking artist that created a lovely painting masterpiece, ending with Jesus at the center of it all.
Our ministry continued to expand as we went out into the local communities to advertise the corps weekly program and our very own concert that evening! Greeted by many warm faces and hugs and only a few shut doors, we quickly realized that Columbus Ohio was open to the Salvation Army and the evangelism that we had taken part in.
The evening celebration opened up with “Walking with Heroes”, an exhilarating piece by renowned composer Paul Lovatt-Cooper. Following that the GNY Youth Chorus under the leadership of Lily Finikin, set the tone with “Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here” leading up to a moving prayer by our very own Cashus Saydee who is a member of both the band and chorus.
As the concert was in full flare, we were blessed by a moving and challenging meditation from our divisional commander, Lt. Colonel Guy D. Klemanski.
Following the word by the DC the GNY divisional arts team also known as D’Art under the leadership of Pablo Fernandez, put on a powerful drama entitled “The Mask” which showed us the different façade we as people have in our lives to conceal our hurt and pain but it does not end there, as the drama progresses Christ comes in and shows us that our wrongs and past no longer matters. Christ fights our battles and defeats the enemy for us and the masks are removed and we are victorious through Christ.
The program ended with a standing ovation for Greater New York Youth Band as they blessed us with Stephen Ponsford’s “Kerygma”, proclaiming the good news message that our Lord and Savior has risen!
Sunday Morning we all gathered after a restful night to worship together at the corps. Beginning with an exciting and lively Sunday school we entered the Holiness Meeting ready for God to speak to us. We were blessed with a vocal solo from Charlie Knickerbocker “Child Soul” followed by a wonderful Tuba and Euphonium duet “The Prayer” from Christopher Webster and Devonte Thompson.
We were later moved by the words of Lt. Col. Klemaski and as the corps family responded to the altar to pray the Youth Chorus’s lovely rendition of “Holy Spirt” challenged us to welcome the Holy Spirt into our daily lives and our communities. Lastly to end the holiness meeting we gave a simple yet powerful benediction saying, “The Lord is Gracious…and offers his compassion still, to those who trust Him”.
On Sunday afternoon, following a great lunch at the Worthington woods Chapel the groups next stop was the Polaris fashion mall. Upon arrival the groups set up for the concert as shoppers began to gather around in anticipation to see what these young people in uniform where all about.
After a brief introduction by C/O Major Josh Lyle explaining who we were and a little about Salvation Army history, the groups put on an exciting performance with something for everyone. There was a wide variety of performances from band to chorus and even hip hop dances. The timbrels brought an exciting Latin style performance with “En Los Montes” written by former YB member Simon Morton. Tenor soloist Devonte Thompson of the GNY youth chorus put on a mind blowing soulful/gospel styled performance of ”God is good” reaching notes high above the musical staff somewhere in the stratosphere! It is safe to say that the Salvation Army was well represented in the mall that afternoon. Staff, spectators, and shoppers were definitely blessed that afternoon judging by the cheering and applause the various GNY groups received. To God Be the Glory!