2021 Territorial Music Institute embodies ‘Undivided’ theme
By: Brad Rowland
Make us one, Lord; Make us one
Holy Spirit, make us one
Let your love flow; So the world will know
We are one in you
After a virtual music and arts experience in 2020, delegates and staff from across the Southeastern United States came together at The Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle from July 26-Aug. 1 under the theme and goal to be “Undivided.” That was the backdrop of the 2021 edition of The Salvation Army’s Territorial Music Institute (TMI), with approximately 200 musicians and artists uniting in worship, education, and community.
Delegates took part in a major discipline, studying and performing in brass band, percussion, worship team, theater, dance, or visual arts throughout the week. While that artistic experience was certainly a focus of the week, the broader concentration was strengthening relationships with God. Each morning, Majors Mike and Christine Harris shepherded delegates with inspired messages.
“Majors Harris led us through a week of Morning Manna focused on being undivided in Christ,” said Nick Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary. “It was wonderful to hear testimonies at the end of the week from delegates declaring that they had been saved during the week or had deepened their faith with God. There was definitely an intentional effort in everything to point back to God, and to develop our young people.”
During the week, Majors Harris also challenged the delegates to go deeper using journaling and a small group experience that encouraged them to reflect on what they’ve learned. They also pushed attendees to take the message of hope to their hometowns, spurring the change locally.
“Hope is the idea that something better is out there. We have to be people of hope,” said Major Mike Harris. “Don’t leave it to politicians. Don’t leave it to movie stars or musicians. Don’t leave it to teachers, or even corps officers. You, who have experienced grace, must do it. You should shout it from the rooftops… Find ways to tell people that you have been forgiven and that they too can feel that. And so begins the healing of our world. Because that hope has to be in people’s hearts so that they feel that there is something better ahead.”
Major classes met three times per day, culminating in two brilliant concerts. Delegates performed in the middle of the week, delivering a “preview” of what was to come, and the institute’s final concert showcased all of the tireless work of a grueling, yet rewarding, week of study.
“I was thrilled by the standard of excellence in our final concert,” Simmons-Smith said. “The bands, theater, dance, and worship team groups presented challenging material and really rose to the occasion.”
Each evening also featured a collective program, including a memorable soloist recital and a Texas-themed night that allowed delegates to kick back, relax and enjoy their surroundings. On Tuesday, delegates were also blessed by a performance of “Skeleton Army” in musical theater form, and Friday allowed the staff and delegates to face off in the annual tradition of a fun-filled and competitive softball game.
All told, it was a successful week of musical and artistic development, and young people from across The Salvation Army’s USA Southern Territory will return home inspired to further hone their respective crafts. However, the overarching challenge is to not only improve artistically, but to use that knowledge and skill practically for the purpose of kingdom building.
“We deliberately focused on getting our young people back to the corps,” said Simmons-Smith. “We took time each day to develop key leadership skills for the corps, especially with the use of classes such as sound engineering, media for worship, worship planning, teaching beginner brass, teaching dance, learning how to play piano or guitar for worship, and more.”
“When I reflect on the last 18 months and how our young people have been somewhat restricted or stifled by the pandemic, it was so encouraging to actually meet in person and worship together, and to have a TMI experience with all divisions well-represented,” Simmons-Smith continued. “It gives me great hope for our territory and for The Salvation Army to see 200 people leave TMI ready to make a difference in our world. We are undivided and ready to change the world!”