Southern Territorial Band puts an emphasis on hope
By: Brad Rowland
In mid-October, members of the Southern Territorial Band spent a weekend of ministry in Atlanta under the umbrella of hope. For most of the four-day gathering, the band focused on the recording of a new album, to be released in 2020, but the weekend arguably peaked with a rare visit to the Evangeline Booth College and intimate worship alongside cadets, officers and families.
First on the agenda was the recording of an album centered on what Nick Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary, described as “easy-listening hymns.” Most musical selections featured on the recording were penned by members of the band, but as a whole the repertoire is an intriguing mixture of newly-written works and classics.
“The album is based on ‘Songs of Hope,’ which happens to be the title,” Simmons-Smith said. “Each hymn has a nugget of truth that gives hope to Christians today, and there is considerable strength to be found in hope.”
While the recording process can be taxing, the band found strength in pouring over the meaning of the text in which the hymns are based. Major Michael Harris, Texas divisional finance secretary, serves as the band’s chaplain, and he was joined by other band members, including principal cornet Jeff Barrington, in sharing much-needed devotional time throughout the weekend.
At the conclusion of the three-day recording process, the band packed up and changed venues, from the Atlanta Temple Corps to Evangeline Booth College for Sunday morning. The ensuing worship experience was memorable but, beyond that, there was an intriguing purpose to the visit.
“It’s not often we have the opportunity to connect with the cadets, and many of them arrive at the EBC as first or second-generation Salvationists,” said Simmons-Smith. “Some of them also enter full-time ministry with limited previous access to music and arts groups on this scale, and I think there is real value in having this as an educational experience.”
The band helped in leading a combined Sunday school class for the entire body of the EBC and, during that time, fruitful conversations took place that allowed for wonderful fellowship. From there, all parties transitioned into a modern, blended worship service in the EBC chapel.
“Major Julie and I have always found added strength in our corps appointments from the band, songsters and ministry arts,” said Major Thomas Louden, principal of Evangeline Booth College. “It is really limitless what you can do with the gifts that God has given each one of us. And if you, future officers, can focus your vision for your corps to include music, arts and/or worship teams, you will find amazing added strength.”
The worshipful gathering featured traditional Salvation Army music-making from the band, in addition to testimony time, a children’s message and contemporary praise and worship. Simmons-Smith described the benefits for the band visiting the EBC as threefold, with an emphasis on having the opportunity for joint worship, the chance to “model a blended worship service that included worship team, testimony, children’s stories and musical accompaniment,” and the educational benefit of cadets experiencing the “hosting” process, with visiting groups likely to visit corps across the territory during their officership.
In the center of it all, however, was the word of God, and Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood, territorial program secretary, delivered a devotional message that perfectly centered the weekend of ministry.
“Far too often, those who have found the living water have kept it to ourselves,” Lt. Col. Hobgood said. “People are lost, facing critical things like starvation and death, simply because we have not told them of the message we’ve been given. We need to give them that hope, and that hope has a name. Its name is Jesus.”