Weekend of Hope in Lynchburg

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) traveled to the city of Lynchburg, Virginia for a ministry weekend, 2 – 3 May, 2009. The primary reason for the band’s visit was the celebration of the opening of a new Salvation Army facility in Lynchburg, the Center of Hope. Located next to the existing Lynchburg Corps building on Park Avenue, this center replaces aging shelter and other buildings in the city.

The first event of the weekend was Community Appreciation Concert, held at the Heritage United Methodist Church. The concert, which was free to the public as an expression of the Salvation Army’s appreciation for the large amount of community support for the Center of Hope Project, generated a near-capacity audience of 350.

Despite being somewhat hampered by an unusual seating formation, forced by the unusual shape of the platform at the church, the NCB gave a strong performance, commencing with Dudley Bright’s mixture of Tudor English and contemporary Christian melodies, In Good Company. Following an invocation and words of welcome from Major David Cope, commanding officer in Lynchburg, the band continued with the festival march Rolling Along (William Himes).

The first soloist feature of the evening was the exciting euphonium solo The Better World, played with dexterity and sensitivity by Sam Funkhouser. This was followed by William Himes’ re-telling of the story of the battle of Jericho in words and music, Jericho Revisited, featuring Captain Michael Harris as narrator.

A large part of the ministry of the National Capital Band is the personal commitment of the members to their faith. A feature of most NCB concerts is a personal testimony by one of the members. On this occasion, one of the younger members of the band, Ian Chaava, gave a short but moving presentation. Following Ian’s testimony, another feature item was presented, the cornet trio Sweetest Name (Howard W. Evans), with soloists David Delaney, Chris Dennard and David Mersiovsky. The first half of the program concluded with Musicmaker, Peter Graham’s tribute to the musical contributions of General John Larsson.

Following the intermission, the NCB started off the second half of the program with Bandmaster Anderson’s march Goldcrest, many of the audience singing along with the theme “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy.” This was followed by what might be considered the major work of the evening, another offering by William Himes, the suite To the Chief Musician. This demanding work again showed the narration skills of Captain Michael Harris, used the band for chanting and singing, and featured Christina Anderson as vocal soloist in the second movement.

The trombone section was featured in the next item, Wonders Begin (Ray Steadman-Allen). Following this, the band moved into “swing mode” for Leonard Ballantine’s arrangement of the spiritual Wade in the Water. The band’s Executive Officer, Major James Allison, gave a short devotional message after this item.

The concert concluded, as do many NCB concerts, with patriotic music, beginning with William Gordon’s arrangement of God Bless America. This was followed by a medley of songs associated with the United States military, Armed Forces Salute (Stephen Bulla). This piece, which includes the songs associated with the five branches of the US Armed Forces (Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Navy and Marines), is often featured on NCB programs. The band’s tradition is to have members of the audience who are current or former members of the military stand as the song for their branch is played to receive the recognition of the audience. This is a popular part of the NCB concerts, and this time was no exception.

Following the benediction, the band gave the final patriotic number, perhaps the most recognized of all American marches, John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever. The audience responded with a standing ovation, and the band played the march Motondo as an encore.

On Sunday morning, the NCB conducted worship services at the Lynchburg Corps. The holiness meeting was celebratory in nature, keeping in step with the theme of the weekend. The band presented Bound for the Promised Land (Paul Drury) and Our God Reigns (James Anderson) as preliminary items. Following some words of welcome and the taking of the offering, the congregation participated in singing Crown Him with Many Crowns (with the band accompanying using Charles Skinner’s stirring arrangement) and Shout to the Lord. Sam Funkhouser gave an excellent personal testimony detailing his journey from faith to doubt and returning to an even stronger faith.

The Scripture lesson of the morning, John 21:15–22, was preceded by David Delaney’s sensitive playing of the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus (arr. William Himes). Following the Scripture reading, the trombone section was featured in Goff Richards’ arrangement of I Will Follow Him, as featured in the film “Sister Act”. This item was specifically requested by the speaker for the morning, Major James Allison, fitting in perfectly with the sermon entitled Jesus Said, “Follow Me”. Following the sermon and altar call (which featured a moving vocal solo by Kirby Crews of the Lynchburg Corps), the meeting concluded with the congregation and band joining together for O Boundless Salvation, with the band playing William Himes’ arrangement of the Founder’s Song. As a postlude, the band ended the morning service with The Father’s Blessing (Kenneth Downie).

The final event of the weekend, a ribbon-cutting and dedication of the new Center of Hope building, was unfortunately driven indoors by heavy rains. However, the use of the Lynchburg Corps gymnasium in no way detracted from the celebration. During the ceremony there were remarks by members of the local Advisory Board and others closely associated with the fund-raising and construction of the $5,000,000 Center of Hope, and a proclamation from the office of the Mayor of Lynchburg, who could not attend due to being on an out-of-town trip, but was ably represented by the Deputy Mayor. The program also featured a vocal solo sung by Major Debbie Cope. The band supported the ceremony with Dance Before the Lord (Peter Graham) presented as a special item, and also provided some music before and after the ceremony, including Joyful, Joyful, The Southern Cross (Brian Bowen), Blessings (Nick Simmons-Smith), The Lord Is Gracious, Motondo and several other items.

Taken all together, the band considered this as one of the best ministry weekends in recent years, well-planned and executed. For budget reasons, the band was not able to hire a coach for the trip, as had been the practice in previous years. Thanks are due to the Arlington Citadel Corps for providing two small buses to transport band members from the Washington area, the Fairfax Corps for providing a van to the Arlington Corps allowing them to release one of the buses, the Washington Metro Area Command for providing the equipment truck, and especially to NCB members Noel Morris, Keith Morris and John Reeves, who volunteered to drive for the weekend.