Florida Division dedicates state-of-the-art music facility at Camp Keystone
By: Brad Rowland
For three decades, the Florida Division has hosted the Longino Music Conservatory at Camp Keystone, centrally operating in a building constructed in 1990. In late June, current leadership joined forces with dignitaries from the past in dedicating a new, state-of-the-art facility.
“Today, we dedicate this house of glad remembrance for the youth of the Florida Division to gather to do three things,” said Commissioner John Busby, retired national commander and former divisional commander. “First, to improve their musical ability; second, to draw closer to their Heavenly Father; and third, to surrender their enhanced musicianship, developed here, to his honor and glory.”
The new building, constructed on the site of the old structure, includes purposely dedicated space for creative arts, percussion, vocal training, brass instrumentation and recital/concert hosting. In conjunction with the opening of the space, the final concert of the Florida Music Institute (FMI) took place, with six bands, five choruses and three creative arts ensembles comprising nearly 200 young people performing in a moving and uplifting way.
Within the dedication ceremony, thank-you messages were distributed to those who took part and FMI delegates commemorated the event with an artistic tribute. Stirring testimonies came to light, citing the impact that the division’s music programs have made and looking ahead to what is a bright future.
“I believe with all of my heart that this is a life-changing program,” said Major Elizabeth Birks, divisional secretary for business. “I can attest to the personal impact it had on my children and what I’ve seen myself. It’s an incredible blessing to see these young people rehearse, perform and grow, and we’re so grateful to all who made this project a dream come true.”
“As a product of The Salvation Army’s music programs myself, I’m excited for the opportunities this new facility will open up for our young people,” said Darryl Crossland, assistant divisional music director. “When children see an investment being made in their future in such a way, it gives them confidence to keep pursuing their dreams.”
The division’s Longino Senior Conservatory program began just hours after completion of FMI and the new facility is being utilized in continuous fashion, all with an eye toward the glory of God and worship through the arts.
“It’s a red-letter day for the Florida Division,” said Lt. Colonel Ken Luyk, divisional commander. “We’re here to celebrate the progress being made but, really, what it’s about is discipleship through musicianship and artistry. All of those are expressions of worship unto the Lord, and that’s why we’re here.”