Engage 2019: Territorial Youth, Music Institutes meet jointly in Nashville
By: Brad Rowland
For the first time since 1984, youth and music delegates from across the Southern Territory and beyond came together for a combined institute July 20-28. More than 700 delegates and staff arrived on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee, for a spirited week of worship, learning and fellowship, under the banner of TYMI, Territorial Youth and Music Institute.
In the last three-plus decades, the institutes have operated separately, and TYI and TMI operated this year on slightly different schedules while occupying the same space. However, the two institutes united daily for the “Morning Manna” devotional time and for multiple evening programs during the nine-day gathering.
Upon arrival, TYMI delegates were greeted with a typical registration process, with music and arts delegates navigating auditions. From there, an opening night program set the tone for the week. Individuals were welcomed with high-energy musical worship, first from the TMI faculty band and quickly followed by a combined worship band that inspired throughout the week. The meeting then turned to an amusing and upbeat edition of “Family Feud,” memorably hosted by Bernie Dake, assistant territorial music secretary, and Jovanie Smith, young adult and mission deployment coordinator.
After an invigorating kickoff, the week settled into a necessary routine, but the Morning Manna gatherings were particularly noteworthy and excellent. Joseph Sojourner, a communicator, emcee and writer from Atlanta, Georgia, served as the featured speaker for the week and he thoughtfully combined biblical teaching with real-life, practical application.
“Morning Manna was a definite highlight,” said Major Timothy Gilliam, territorial youth secretary. “I think Joseph Sojourner knocked it out of the park with relevant teaching that covered all ages. Adults and leaders were also responding, not only for support of the youth, but to pray and reaffirm their own commitments. I thought that was phenomenal to see, and the worship times were memorable and important.”
“Joseph Sojourner spoke about real-life issues and challenges that penetrated the hearts of the young people,” said Nicholas Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary. “Overall, the times of worship with TYI were powerful, and we were led by an amazing worship band that fired all the delegates and staff up each day.”
With outstanding worship at the forefront, the combined TYMI was also the first foray for either institute away from Salvation Army property. In commemoration, Trevecca Nazarene University surprised delegates with a scholarship announcement
during the week’s concluding gathering, a dynamic creative arts finale. It was announced that a pair of scholarships, one for a TYI delegate and one for a TMI delegate, will be offered at a value of $10,000 per year for four years, with selections to follow, after the submittal of essays in the coming days.
Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, addressed the delegation during the opening session, and his words rang true to describe the inspiring nature of what 700 committed persons can and will achieve in the future.
“My prayer for you this week is that all you experience, all you do, will help discover your purpose if it is ever unclear,” said Commissioner Howell. “If it’s unclear, I hope you find it. For those of you that understand your purpose, then I encourage you to engage all the more with it. Engage with his spirit. Grab hold of his purpose for you with holy passion. If we all engage, all of us at TYMI, with his purpose for us, I can promise you that we will change the world.”
TYI digs deep for spiritual growth
As part of an historic crossover gathering of TYMI, the Territorial Youth Institute brought more than 400 delegates and staff together in Nashville, Tennessee, July 20-28 with an eye toward spiritual growth. The spirit moved within the assembly, centering on inspiring “Morning Manna” times of worship and permeating through daily activities.
Moving worship occurred with the integration of dynamic artistic expression. TYI delegates also were able to reflect on the information breathed into them by Joseph Sojourner, keynote speaker for the week. Immediately following Morning Manna, delegates gathered in “D Groups” to dig deeper into the word and their reactions, with life-changing decisions made along the way.
“On the first day of D groups, one of our delegates pulled us aside to say he gave his life to Jesus that morning,” said Captain Joshua Hinson, commanding officer of the Columbus, Georgia, corps and a TYMI staff member. “We were able to pray with him and follow up with him throughout the week. He shared his struggles with anxiety, and we were able to see not just his growth, but the growth of many of the delegates as they opened up in D groups.”
TYI delegates also took part in a pair of elective classes, with an impressive catalog of choices that allowed young people to seek growth. One was of a performative variety, including hip hop, spoken word, drama, gospel choir and videography. The other, in a more traditional classroom setting, offered journaling, spiritual discipline, soul care and biblical responses in today’s world.
Memorable evening programs were headlined by a crossover gathering with TMI delegates for “Dancing with the DYS’s” on Tuesday evening. Divisional youth secretaries from across the Southern Territory were paired with trained dancers from within Salvationist ranks. The program emulated “Dancing with the Stars,” the popular ABC game show.
“I have to say that the Dancing with the DYS’s evening had to be the best night program I’ve ever seen,” said Major Timothy Gilliam, territorial youth secretary. “It was exceptionally well done. I think the bulk of that falls to the Music Department and (territorial creative arts director) Bethany Farrell. She did a fantastic job putting that together. You would’ve thought you were on ABC with the way the music and production came together.”
TYI’s slate of evening programs also included an awards ceremony set to the backdrop of the “Tonight Show,” and Major Gilliam credited Captains Matt and Jessica Hedgren with a “job very well done” in presenting a light-hearted, effective atmosphere.
As always, Sunday worship leapt to the forefront at the conclusion of the week, with TYMI delegates coming together and focusing on the reason for their gathering. TYI delegates performed as part of the creative arts finale and, while fellowship and amusement took place throughout the week, lives were clearly changed in the image of God.
TMI: Expressive worship on stage
More than 200 young people from the Southern Territory assembled at TMI to not only study in eight dedicated disciplines in music and arts, but to express their talent in fellowship and worship.
The octet of “major” classes, ranging from dance and visual arts to brass band and choral leadership, displayed a variety of worship methods and shined a bright light on the work being done across the territory.
From the moment each delegate arrived in Nashville, TMI was a whirlwind of study, with major classes flanked by chorus gatherings and other avenues for artistic growth. Delegates showcased their work on multiple occasions.
A mid-week “preview” concert featured four bands, five choruses, three worship teams and a combined creative arts performance. At the end of the week, groups split into two sessions for concluding performances, with bands and choruses taking the stage Saturday evening and the creative arts and worship team delegates performing in a dedicated finale Sunday.
“I was delighted with the excellent achievement of some of our groups at TMI,” said Nicholas Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary. “We have great kids in the Southern Territory, and I am so proud of our young people. They are talented, humble, willing to learn, and responsive to the Holy Spirit.”
In addition to group-driven settings, a night of soloists highlighted individual talent. Delegates performed in the areas of vocal, woodwind, brass, dance and contemporary worship.
Notably, Anthony Barrington impressed all with a beautiful cornet rendition of “Sounds of Singing,” and the trio of Bannister Chaava, Clay Smith and Carl Corbitt excited attendees with a rock-and-roll version of “A Mighty Fortress.”
Awards were given recognizing delegates’ decorum and contributions. They included a pair of newly minted scholarships named after the late Major Dan Proctor, a long-time TMI faculty member. His daughters, Kaylene Baker and Kally Proctor, presented present awards for “most improved instrumentalist” and “outstanding international delegate.” It was a moving tribute to their father.
While musical and artistic standards were at an impressive level, there was also a marked spiritual emphasis permeating the institute. Gatherings with TYI delegates at Morning Manna and evening programs were noteworthy but, amid hard work and preparation through artistic expression, everything was viewed through the lens of worship and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
“If you’re here for any other reason other than worshipping him, it’s all just noise,” said Andrew Barrington, divisional music director of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division. “If you don’t know Jesus, come and find me, or come and find someone else on the staff. I can promise you that we want to tell you about him.”