JUNE 10, 2023 – After months of preparation and competing at the divisional level of Star Search, over 1000 young people descended upon Hershey, Pennsylvania for the annual Territorial Star Search!
Eleven Divisions representing thirteen states and Puerto Rico comprise the Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory to include:
Northern New England (NNE)
Southern New England (SNE)
Greater New York (GNY)
New Jersey (NJ)
Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware (EPA)
Western Pennsylvania (WPA)
Southwest Ohio and Northeast Kentucky (SWONKEY)
Northeast Ohio (NEOSA)
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (PRVI)
Without sounding like a broken record and mentioning COVID again, it is important to recognize the amount of participation from the many corps around the territory that have been rebuilding since 2020. Every music category, including all four levels, had participants and several with almost full representation from all divisions. It was encouraging to see so many young musicians gathered in one place, in one accord and worshipping the Lord with their musical gifts.
With so many solos, band pieces and songs being sung all at once, it is difficult to understand the full scope of all that is happening in those few hours of actual competition time. There are, however, always reports of tears being shed as a young person from a broken family situation takes the stage and completes the final goal they have been striving for, and a real sense of the spirit being in the room with that young person. There are times when we are amazed by a young person who just seems to be gifted beyond their years. A good example of that was with Junior Lubin Jr. from the Westbury Corps in Long Island. At only 9 years of age, Junior played the cornet variation solo ‘Maid of the Mist’ complete with triple tonguing! Another special moment was reserved for the young people of the San Juan Central Temple Corps, who, after many years of coming close to winning the Youth Band category, finally got their well-deserved win, with the two other bands being of a high standard. The worship instrumental category also continues to see growth after introducing new categories in bass guitar and drum set. We have already seen evidence around the territory of the guitar, bass and drum categories combing in order to lead a worship song, proving that Star Search is more than just a competition!
Before an energetic and much anticipated awards ceremony, the New York Staff Band presented its now highly acclaimed ‘CREATION’. The setting of the Great American Hall in the Hershey Lodge was perfect for this presentation, allowing the video and lyrics to be broadcast on gigantic screens complemented by superb lighting and other effects. CREATION has had a profound impact wherever it has been presented, but this was perhaps the perfect venue and timing as so many young people along with their families and corps leaders were present. It really helped to bring in the focus of the day’s events when the crowd joined in singing ‘So Will I’, proclaiming that we were created to worship and finally culminating in the powerful rendition of ‘How Great Thou Art’ giving our final praise back to the Lord.