“THE STARS SANG TOGETHER*”
By Rob Jeffery, ETSS Communications Secretary
OCTOBER 4-6, 2019 — The Eastern Territory held its third bi-annual Singing Stars. This wonderful event, led by the Music Department with support by the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters (ETSS) is a very focused weekend of mass choral singing, vocal workshops, and worship. It is made up of youth from across the Eastern Territory who are involved in divisional youth choruses and their corps’ songster brigades. The setting for this idyllic weekend was Star Lake Camp, which was alive with the beautiful colors of fall.
This year’s Singing Stars was truly unique in that joining us for the first time was the entire Youth Chorus of The Salvation Army Central Territory. Our combined East- Central participants filled up the lodge to its maximum capacity, with over 75 youth! To see so many young people from different walks of life come together as one to sing the Lord’s praises was both moving and Spirit-filled.
Our special guests for the weekend from the Central Territory included the notable Dr. Harold Burgmayer, Territorial Music and Creative Arts Ministries Secretary, and Joe Caddy, Fine Arts Ministry Director for the College for Officer Training in Chicago. Our Bible guests were Kevin and Sheryl Slous from the Canada & Bermuda Territory who spoke on the theme of stars
and God’s special design for our lives. The mass chorus was also led by our own ETSS Leader, Gavin Whitehouse, Divisional Music Director for the Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware Division.
The music selected was challenging, but after a few sessions it began to come together. There was American Gospel (I Sing Because I’m Happy – arr. Rollo Dilworth), thoughtful choral devotionals (God of the Deep – Eileen Berry/Dan Forrest), triumphant full-bodied hymns (When He Comes Again – arr. Burgmayer), and Salvation Army songster classics such as Garden of My Heart (Sidney Cox arr. Terry Camsey).
On Saturday evening we held a recital at the lodge with selections from the ETSS and the Central Youth Chorus. To our delight, we were treated to a few dramatic sketches from the Bill Booth Theater Company. The performances were both funny and moving, imparting some poignant spiritual insights.
On Sunday morning we held our own worship service at Star Lake. It was an intimate time of testimonies – young people sharing their joys, struggles, their service to others, and their hopes for the future. One song that the Holy Spirit used to bless our hearts during this time was
God Loves You (arr. Bill Wolaver). A line from this quiet, yet stirring song that resonated strongly with the youth was “God loves you, and made you for the pleasure of knowing you.” This profound and moving truth spoke to us and caused many people to come forward to the mercy seat. Not even a sudden loss in electricity (caused by a fallen tree) could distract the young people from seeking the Lord in that moment.
The worship carried on to our finale concert held at Montclair Citadel (New Jersey Division). To a healthy crowd of onlookers, the Singing Stars performed their pieces, interspersed with testimonies and a devotional thought by Sheryl Slous. After expressing thanks to our visiting guests from the Central Territory, we concluded the concert with Lee Fisher’s, Go in Peace, Go in Love. The weekend was a wonderful time of singing, learning, and being encouraged in the faith. Both the Eastern and Central territories should be very proud of their Salvation Army youth, who, week after week – participate in the songster/chorus ministry. They do this because they love the Lord and they love the mission of The Salvation Army. Our Singing Stars do indeed shine bright! *Job 38:7 – “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” ■
Read more stories in the Fall 2019 USA East Music Bulletin.