Virtual summer: TYMI convenes online July 27-31

By: David Ibata

“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” — Psalm 59:16-17 (New Living Translation)

The Youth and Music departments of The Salvation Army Southern Territory aren’t letting some virus get in the way of reaching young people with the Word of God. In these days of COVID-19, the departments are going “virtual” for combined, 2020 Territorial Youth and Music Institutes.

This year’s gathering of praise, fellowship and learning runs for five days, Monday-Friday, July 27-31. Rather than physically meeting as in past years, hundreds of delegates will log in online.

The organizers acknowledge the challenge of putting together a program that appeals to those who for months have been isolated from friends, schools and corps and living on their devices.

“A lot of our young people and young adults are kind of burned out on the virtual stuff,” said Major Tim Gilliam, territorial youth secretary. “Many of them did virtual studies the last part of the school year, and the last thing they want to do is get back on a device.”

With a theme of “Unfailing,” inspired by Psalm 59:16-17, “we think TYI and TMI will be compelling and intriguing enough that we’ll have a wide audience” – indeed, an audience that might surpass the attendance of past, in-person meetings.

Because content will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, and some sessions will be recorded for later viewing, many no-longer-so-young people who remember their own experiences at the institutes may return to sample this year’s offerings. (Attendees typically range in age from 15 to 25; TYI generates about 400 registrations, and TMI, 250.)

Nicholas Simmons-Smith, territorial music and creative arts education secretary, agreed with Major Gilliam: “Some of our kids are bored, some of them are de-motivated. This is an opportunity to get into their lives and get them fired up again. Hopefully, we’ll be able to develop the esprit de corps we have when we’re together.”

TYI and TMI will be accessed through Attendify, an app that will collate all information and send delegates to the right places at the right times.

Youth and music delegates will begin the day together at 10 a.m. EDT at Morning Manna, “a time of worship and Bible teaching, a 50-minute segment broadcast on all our social media channels,” Simmons-Smith said. “We’ll provide dynamic worship music, and TYI will offer wonderful teaching, Scripture and testimony.”

Featured guests Steve Carter and Megan Fate Marshman will speak on alternating mornings, on “Unfailing Love,” “Unfailing Grace,” “Unfailing Justice,” “Unfailing Truth” and “Unfailing God.” At 11 a.m., TYI and TMI attendees will split up and head off to their respective sessions (details below).

Everybody will get back together at 7 p.m. Themes will include a Music Night with Damien Horne and the Magi, a Gameshow Night, and a Testimony and Prayer Night. A Solo Night will feature performance videos submitted by delegates. A question-and-answer panel with Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell and a Q&A forum with divisional music and creative arts directors also are planned.

The 9 p.m. hour will bring “Late Night Live,” set up like a talk show with a host, Major Marion Platt of the Memphis, Tennessee, Area Command, and special guests and a house band.

“The host will recap the message from the morning, so delegates will have that in mind when they go to sleep,” Major Gilliam said. “It will be more light-hearted, hopefully, with laughing and good fellowship and giveaways of things like AirPods Pros.”

TYI and TMI, Simmons-Smith said, “is something our kids look forward to every year. It’s important we maintain this connection with them. When we come out of this COVID crisis, we’ll need them fully engaged and on fire at their corps. This is an impetus to get them going before the school year starts.”

Territorial Youth Institute

“The breakout sessions will flesh out the ‘Unfailing’ theme, and there also will be practical classes, from ‘Adulting’ – how to prepare a personal budget, for example – to fun things like baking, and a Bible study,” Major Gilliam said. “There will a be a mix of serious and light-hearted content with variety and charismatic leaders.”

Other offerings will include “Social Distancing, Not Spiritual Distancing” led by Captains Rob and Heather Dolby, territorial missions specialists; “Breakout With a Workout,” with Kevin Chamlee, wellness director at Evangeline Booth College; and “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See,” an anti-pornography workshop led by Bernie Dake, assistant territorial music secretary.

A small group of about 20 delegates will participate in “Focused Living,” a leadership track conducted by the School for Leadership Development.

“We want to make things attractive so people want to participate,” Major Gilliam said. “And because this is a virtual and electronic event, we’re convinced people outside the typical age range for TYI also will participate.”

Territorial Music Institute

The Territorial Music Institute will offer three daily breakout sessions, at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. There will be tracks for brass and percussion instruments; worship teams; and creative arts.

“In the brass area, we’ll have Zoom interviews with outstanding Salvationists from around the Army world – people like Phil Smith, a professor of music at the University of Georgia and former principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic; and Stephen Cobb, bandmaster of the International Staff Band in London,” Simmons-Smith said. “I’ll interview them, and they’ll lead a master class.”

Brass and percussion students who wish to do so also may sign up for private lessons. Each will connect with a teacher by Zoom for a 30- to 50-minute session.

Worship teams will be divided into guitar, bass guitar, piano, vocal and drum subtracks. “There might be a teacher doing a Zoom lesson and five or six people participating with guitars,” Simmons-Smith said. “It will be less of a master class and more of a session on practical technique.”

Creative arts will cover dance, drama and, possibly, photography. “These are more performance-driven. Throughout the week, they’ll build a piece to be performed at the end,” Simmons-Smith said.

For more information, and to register: