Well they say sometimes that BIG things come in small packages sometimes, and that can be said of the band of The Salvation Army West End Community Church in Bermuda. After a busy 2013-2014 season, which saw the band travel to Ft Frances, Ontario, Canada as guests of their Centennial Celebrations, this present season has been a busy one as well.
In October 2014, the band received a grant from Canada and Bermuda THQ Music and Gospel Arts Dept. that assisted in supporting the vision and ministry of the band. This allowed us to purchase a much needed BBb Tuba and Flugelhorn
. The band was most grateful for the support and commitment shown by Majors Curtis and Cindy Butler (COs) and Major Kevin Metcalf (Terr MAGA Sec). The instruments were dedicated and displayed to the congregation during a Sunday Worship Service in October. The whole corps gave thanks to God for this truly wonderful gift.
Throughout the Christmas period the band shared in ministry both at the corps and within the community. We played at Christmas Programs, Shopping Malls, Hotels, Seniors Homes – with the same Message, that Jesus IS the reason for the Season. We also were privileged to share in community caroling with the Cedar Hill Citadel Band. It was so warming to have folk sing along, and smile again at the sound of the band and the carols / selections played. This is always a highlight of our season and a fitting closure to 2014.
During the weekend of 28th and 29th of March, 2015 the WECC held its annual Gospel Arts Weekend. On the Saturday night, the corps held the GA Concert – Lord of All at the corps on Cambridge Road. The weather was good as well as the atmosphere. Folk came from throughout the island to fill out the hall. The event was also live streamed and to our amazement had over 40 viewers. As the crowd was entering they were met by a PowerPoint presentation showing pictures of Gospel Arts at the corps past to present. It was a very contemplative moment. This year the guest band was the Cedar Hill Citadel Band (B/M Warren Jones) and guest conductor was B/M (Rtd) Calvin Ming Jr (North Street Citadel). Comperes for the night were the Bermuda DCs Majors Frank and Rita Pittman. The joint bands kicked off the night with Capt Martin Cordner’s festival-march-like ‘Lord of All’. This set the tone and spirit of the evening. After intros and an opening prayer by Major Cindy, one of our corps teenagers Lyric Fubler
shared some wonderful uplifting words in a spiritual poem about uplifting and praising God. Then the band under the baton of B/M Ming played young Fred Mbesi’s Song Setting – Peacemaker. This was its inaugural performance and was well played by the band and received by the audience. It featured Greg Ferguson’s song Peacemaker with hints of Eric Balls timeless tune Peace in our time Lord. Next up was the North Street Citadel Singing Company
under the leadership of Carol McDowall. They sang two items and dazzled the crowd with their solos and bold appearance. It was so inspiring to see kids singing their hearts out to God!
The band then shared a time of reflection and tribute to one of their former members and COs Major Mark Cummings. He was recently promoted to Glory and during his ministry in Bermuda in the early 1990s, he rejuvenated the banding ministry at the corps. The band played B/M George Marshall’s classic Song Arr – ‘Jesus Himself Drew Near’. It was a very stirring performance with Holy Week just around the corner. One of the featured items of the night came, not from a dance, or brass band nor a vocal piece; it was from a gifted soloist by the name of David Bean
. David plays the ‘leaf’, ‘cherry leaf’ to be exact. As he played ‘As the Deer’ , the crowd was left in awe by David and his testimony of living out, ‘Let everything that has breath, Praise the Lord!’ You had to be there to experience that artistry! I’m sure it brought a smile to the Lord’s heart!
As a midway point Bandsman Sheldon Fox II (North Street Citadel) sat at the piano and led the congregation in the recent Gospel Anthem ‘Hear my cry oh Lord’ with full rhythm and brass accompaniment. This was truly enjoyed by all. After another moving poem by Lyric, Major Curtis Butler
(CO), Sheldon and Monique Christopher shared a Drama devotional based around ‘Letting Go’! Even with its humour and drama, the Message of trusting and having faith in God came through clearly. Next was the band’s second world premier for the night, Dr Dorothy Gates’ new arrangement ‘Whatever it may cost’. Written at the request of BM Jerome Astwood in 2014, the words in the song are quite tragic in nature, speaking of darkness, fear and failure. This arrangement transforms the original melody into a darker, more contemplative setting. We all face very real crosses in our lives. However, it is not a question of "if" they come. It is more a question of "when" they come. But facing these crosses with our Lord we have the strength to say, "I'll not turn back, whatever it may cost!”. During the playing of this piece there was a PowerPoint presentation to help visualize the music.
After a time of thanks and presentations, the joint band accompanied B/M Jones playing Martin Cordner’s lyrical Euphonium solo ‘Abide with me’. The soloist and band did a good job and was very pleasing to all in attendance. This was shown by a large round of applause. To close out the concert B/M Cal Ming led the band through Paul Curnow’s arrangement ‘Lord I Lift Your Name on High’. With its African rhythms and idioms the band played this piece with a sense of excitement, rounding out a most glorious evening of celebrating God, Lord of All.
The Gospel Arts Sunday was just as moving as the night before. Everyone seemed on a spiritual high and was thankful for the gifts God has given each one of us. To start the service in the attitude of worship, the band played a few prelude pieces from the Army’s Band Tune Book and Scripture Based Songs Series. Throughout the service the theme, Lord of All was exemplified – in word, song or deed. Vecal Astwood sang a wonderful rendition of CeCe Winans song ‘He’s concerned about you’ and B/M Cal Ming read the scripture. The band played two offertory selections, ‘As we are Gathered’ by Trevor Worthington and Dr Harold Burgmayer’s ‘March – Jubilant Day’. During the playing of the march the band was led by 3 yr old up and coming Jaaziah Astwood. The band had a full work out under his baton! Next, B/M Jerome Astwood and B/Sec Shonette Wilson presented a cheque for $250.00
to Major Cindy Butler and Rudolph ‘Buddy’ Hollis (Mission board member) for Partners in Mission 2015. The Lord has blessed the band tremendously, that we wanted to give back to our partners in the Lord’s work! Major Pittman brought the Word and challenged all to allow themselves to be living sacrifices : to be used by God. To conclude the service Major Rita Pittman led the congregation in the singing with band accompaniment of ‘I’ll Not Turn Back’. A most fitting song of declaration and commitment to round off another GA Weekend at the corps.
The following week was Holy Week and the WECC Band was on duty once again to help spread the Gospel of Christ. On the Tuesday night they ministered at the Divisional Holy Week Service at WECC. On Good Friday, at 8am, the band shared with the West End Ministerial Alliance at an open-air service at the Somerset Cricket Club. This was open to the community and a very good representation from many of the churches in the western end of the island. Major Curtis spoke along with 7 other pastors on the sayings of Christ. It was a beautiful spring Bermuda-ful morning in His Presence and Light. The band provided accompaniment during the singing of the hymns as well as prelude and postlude music. The theme selection for Holy Week was James Curnow’s rousing ‘At Calvary’ from the AIES. The band played it on the Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. It was a huge hit this year with the band as well as listeners. All in all, this season has been quite busy for the WECC Band but we are grateful for His sacrifice and giftedness. The ability to assist in worship, proclaim Christ and make a joyful noise unto the Lord is a most precious but powerful opportunity. Even though the band is very diverse, (ages, ability, background), God uses us as a vehicle to share His love and Message to others. And for that we are truly grateful!
Bandmaster – SA West End Community Church, Bermuda.