MARCH 15-17, 2024 – As young Salvationist musicians from the USA Eastern Territory and beyond gathered with New York Staff Band (NYSB) members for the 2024 Future All-Star Weekend (FAW), it was immediately evident that this would be an uplifting time of music making, fellowship, and most significantly spiritual enrichment.  

The annual Future All-Stars Weekend over the past 20 years has been a time of intense musical instruction and rehearsal.   This year was no exception.  Staff Bandmaster Derek Lance showed great faith in the skills and talents of the young people, having selected several challenging musical items with the intention of presenting them at the Finale Festival.  Rehearsals and sectionals (totaling about 10 hours) were not only times of attempting to master the music but were also quite meaningful because the Message of the music was evident in each item.   

Much time was spent working on “Aspects of Praise” by William Himes.  This work is based on the hymn tune “Azmon”, to which are associated the words, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise”.   I. Praise in Joy; II. Praise in Meditation; III. Praise in Sadness and Persecution; IV.  Praise in Fellowship.   

Captains Joel and Kathleen Ashcraft led those gathered through devotional times with the theme, “A Life of Praise” which was derived from the movements of “Aspects of Praise”.  They encouraged all gathered to live lives of praise and commitment to Christ in community as well as in private, in challenging times and even in sadness.  Delegates were reminded that we can “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Each devotional segment concluded with Future All-Stars gathering in small groups with NYSB Members for times of sharing, reflection, and prayer.  

After a long day of rehearsals, devotional times, good fellowship, and food it was time to focus purely on worship and praise.    Victor Morales put together a praise team made up of NYSB members and Future All Stars that beautifully and effectively led all gathered into a meaningful time in the presence of the Lord.  There were no barriers as songs of praise and prayers were lifted, heartfelt testimonies were shared along with a clear sharing of the Word of God.    As this time concluded, those gathered were invited to spend as much time as they needed in thought and prayer.  

Sunday morning would be a bit different this year as the Future All-Stars would be participating in Sunday Morning Worship at the Montclair Citadel Corps.   Presentations by the FAW Band included Jonathan Rowsell’s “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” and Andrew Wainwright’s “Be Thou my vision”.  FAW Delegate Marlon Rosario shared a thoughtful testimony as to the impact of SA music on his walk with the Lord.   The FAW Band Chorus sang Mark Hayes arrangement of “Grace” followed by a reading from Scripture and the FAW Band presenting Dean Jones work “Glorify Your Name”.   The message by Captain Joel Ashcraft was on point and the meeting concluded with the singing of “Crown Him with Many Crowns” followed by the band playing “God be with you” by William Gordon.

There was a sense of excitement and eager anticipation in the air as the time approached for the Finale Festival on Sunday afternoon.    The FAW Band presented items by Martin Cordner, Steve Kellner, Dean Jones, and Andrew Wainwright.    For a little something different the band played Dean Goffin’s march “Anthem of the Free” which was well-received by those in attendance.   FAW Delegate Abby Etuk from the Philadelphia Citadel Corps shared a moving and grateful testimony expressing her praise to the Lord for His providential care.  She testified that she had sustained serious injuries in an automobile accident and was most grateful to be alive and with us to tell her story.  Following her testimony, the band would play, there would be more testimony, the FAW Band Chorus would sing and Captain Joel Ashcraft would share from the Word.  

Moving towards the conclusion of the program, the FAW band would present its greatest musical challenge of the weekend, ”Aspects of Praise” by William Himes.  From the opening measures, it was apparent that the band was well-rehearsed on this major work.   As the music continued one could sense that the performers had a good understanding of the message of the music as well.   In the end, this work was a glorious reminder that as beloved sons and daughters of God, we should praise Him in all circumstances.  Following this performance and all that took place over the weekend, the FAW Band received a well-deserved standing ovation.   All Glory to God!

The concert and entire weekend appropriately concluded with the singing of “Rock of Ages”.

Major Philip Ferreira

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