Ministry Weekend in Raleigh

Early on the morning of Saturday, 19 February 2011, members of the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) gathered at Divisional Headquarters in Washington to begin a journey to Raleigh, NC, for a ministry weekend. The weekend was set up by Majors Pete and Cathy Costas, who are the corps officers in Raleigh, and consisted of a short outdoor concert at North Hills Mall, a soldiers’ rally/concert and Sunday morning worship at the Raleigh Corps.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Upon arriving in Raleigh, the band was treated to lunch at the corps, and then went to North Hills Mall for an outdoor concert. Despite the season, the weather was warm and sunny, and there were many people at the venue. The band had an excellent area from which to present their concert, at the center of the mall in a large courtyard. Items included The Risen Savior (Paul Kellner), Be Thou My Vision (Steve Kellner), Joyful, Joyful (Steve Kellner), Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Motivation (William Himes), the second movement, featuring “Amazing Grace” from Robert Redhead’s suite Shout Salvation, and Goldcrest (James Anderson).

After a brief stop at their hotel, the members of the band returned to the Raleigh Corps for set up, sound check, and dinner before the evening event, which was a Soldiers’ Rally with Salvationists from several corps in the area in attendance. The NCB started the evening with Bandmaster Kellner’s Fanfare and Allegro on the Doxology, followed by a welcome by the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison. The congregation was given the first of several opportunities to participate, singing Joyful, Joyful to the band’s accompaniment.

The Good Old Way, based on a Primitive Methodist song from the nineteenth century, was the next item on the program. Bruce Broughton, an established film and television composer, is a master of programmatic music, and this piece is a fine example. The band’s only soloist of the evening was principal cornet David Delaney, who gave an enthusiastic performance of Ray Steadman-Allen’s Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals.

Scott Bedio gave a testimony, which was followed by the suite Shout Salvation (Robert Redhead), conducted by deputy bandmaster Matt Sims, with Bandmaster Kellner taking the bass trombone chair.

The congregation was then offered another opportunity to participate. This time, they were treated to a premiere of a new medley arranged by Bandmaster Kellner, Army on the March! This piece, designed for audience participation, consists of a number of Salvation Army marching songs, several of which are presented in the arrangements based on those featured in classic marches: “Marching Along”, “Keep in Step” from Regent Hall Young People (Leslie Condon), “A Robe of White” from The Invincible Army (Erik Leidzén), “March On!”, “Happy Song” from Kinshasha (Leslie Condon) and “On We March with the Blood and the Fire” from Harrow Citadel (A. S. Raikes). During this item, the Army flag was marched around the hall as the audience enthusiastically sang.

The main Salvation Army center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was destroyed by the earthquake of January 2010. The USA Southern Territory is raising funds, from the soldiers, to assist in the rebuilding of the corps, which is one of the largest in the Americas. An offering was taken during the meeting in support of this effort. The band played Motivation (William Himes), with the deputy bandmaster conducting, as an offertory. This was followed by a devotional message by Major Allison.

The final band item was another composition from Bandmaster Kellner, Variations on “O Worship the King”. The piece examines the familiar hymn tune in five movements: “Fanfare”, “Little Fugue”, “Song without Words”, “Celtic Dance” and “Theme and Finale”. This led into the conclusion of the program, with the congregation singing ’O Boundless Salvation’ using William Himes’ arrangement as accompaniment. Major Pete Costas gave a benediction. The NCB sent everyone home in fine fashion, playing Goldcrest (James Anderson) as a postlude.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

On Sunday morning, the band returned to the Raleigh worship center. After the Sunday School preliminaries, the Raleigh corps members dispersed to their classes, and the band remained in the chapel for their own preparations. Major Allison gave a short devotional, and then the rest of the time became a prayer meeting among the members of the band. Bandmaster Kellner has emphasized the spiritual life of the band and its members during this season, and this short devotional time was a significant event, including band members kneeling at the Mercy Seat, being supported and assisted by other members.

The theme of the morning worship service was ’Arise, My Soul!’. The band’s main contribution was the offertory, Dean Goffin’s prelude and fugue Arise, My Soul, Arise, one of the true classics of brass band literature. Danielle Ashton read Scripture and gave her testimony. Major Allison gave the message of the morning, entitled “You Want Me To Do What?”, based on Isaiah 6:1-8. The time of commitment after the sermon again featured the band, as they presented Eric Ball’s timeless meditation, Serenity.

A highlight of the meeting was an impromptu a capella quartet from four members of the Raleigh Corps. This corps has a diverse, international congregation, and several of the local officers, including Bandmaster Henri Kissaka and Songster Leader Ghodard Diavangama, hail from Africa. The quartet, which included these persons and two other African Salvationists, sang with the unique and beautiful quality of vocal groups from that continent.

The meeting ended on an upbeat note, with the congregation singing along with the band in the medley Army on the March! (Steve Kellner). Major Pete Costas gave the benediction, and the band played The Risen Savior (Paul Kellner) as a postlude before moving downstairs to join Corps Sergeant-Major Terry Williamson and the rest of the Raleigh corps council for lunch.

This trip ranks as one of the top ministry weekends undertaken by the National Capital Band in recent years. Filling in for absent members were some of the talented local Salvationist musicians: Steve Sutton (cornet), Daniel Simmons (horn) and Charlie Fisher (trombone). In addition, the NCB was delighted to have former long-time member Captain Mike Harris, who is now the corps officer in Hickory, North Carolina, sit in with the tuba section for the Saturday night rally.