Musicians and Artists Aim to ‘Rise Up’ at Territorial Music Institute

By: Brad Rowland

From July 24 through August 1, young people from The Salvation Army’s USA Southern Territory gathered at Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas for eight days of artistic and spiritual growth. The 2022 Territorial Music Institute (TMI) featured four brass bands, two dance classes, four theater classes, and four worship teams, as well as major classes on visual arts and piano. In addition, delegates participated in four choruses, several leadership tracks, and 13 elective endeavors, ranging from choreography to costuming, beginner band leadership, media in worship, musical composition, and percussion fundamentals. 

In addition to the dedicated and high-level instruction of a passionate faculty that included wonderful special guests in John and Sarah Lam, the theme of “Rise up!” permeated the grounds for the week and Captains Chris and Carla Raymer, corps officers in Greensboro, North Carolina, served as spiritual guests for the week with a challenging and uplifting message. 

“We are so glad you’re here. Yes, this is TMI, and maybe we spend a lot of time working on music, dance, and the arts. But we strongly encourage you to not be here just for that,” said Captain Carla Raymer as part of TMI’s opening session. “You can experience God through music, and even in these gatherings, the night programs, the vespers and small groups, God has a plan for you. He wants to restore you and He so wants to see revival in the hearts of young men and women in The Salvation Army. Why can’t it start with us?” 

A meaningful innovation for 2022 was the implementation of small group study throughout the week. Captains Raymer laid the groundwork in daily “morning manna” sessions and the small group setting was well-received and fruitful. 

“Captains Chris and Carla Raymer led us beautifully through morning manna, in conjunction with small discussion groups,” said Nick Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary. “This allowed delegates to voice their opinions and learn together in a more intimate setting.” 

Students and faculty navigated a busy class schedule daily, moving from morning manna to major classes, chorus, electives and evening program activities at a brisk and detailed pace. Evening programs included the opening session, a fiesta program, a solo recital, a “preview” concert, a meaningful worship journey through the Psalms of Ascent, and a two-part final concert on Sunday, July 31. 

Twenty-one scholarship awards were distributed on Sunday, including a pair of newly instituted awards for the 2022 institute. Four Major Charles Trask brass band scholarships were awarded to the outstanding instrumentalist in each brass band, and the Lex Roberson scholarship was awarded to the outstanding worship team delegate at least 18 years of age. Sunday’s final concert slate also featured tremendous growth and musical and artistic achievement from each ensemble. 

“TMI continues to represent the most diverse music and arts programming at a Salvation Army camp,” said Simmons-Smith. “I am really encouraged by the young people of our territory. They have been through a lot these past few years, but the future remains bright for the Southern Territory with the quality of young people coming through our music and arts programs.” 

Throughout the week, youth readily responded to the voice of the Holy Spirit, rededicating their lives to God. Following the concerts came the challenge of the return home and the implementation of renewed knowledge into local corps and divisional settings. Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, provided a challenge on Sunday, putting the week’s festivities into context and urging young people to follow the Lord in all they do. 

“In the same way you follow a conductor as he or she leads you, or in the same way you follow a track in the praise team, listen to what the Lord says to you,” said Commissioner Howell. “Act on what He asks. Pay attention and follow. He will take you exactly where He wants you, and He will do with you what you were always meant to do. If I could leave anything with you, it would be to pay attention to what the Lord has for you, and what He is doing in you.”