Southern California’s first-ever Adult Music School

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Camp Mt. Crags hosts the camp, featuring special guests William and Linda Himes and Gavin Whitehouse.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song (Ps. 95:1-2 NIV).

Musicians from The Salvation Army Southern California Division joined to extol [God] with music and song at the division’s first-ever Adult Music School held at Camp Mt. Crags Sept. 2-5.

Approximately 100 adults attended, along with 40 children. Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs, Western territorial leaders, ministered throughout the weekend and sang in the camp chorus. Southern California divisional leaders, Lt. Colonels Kyle and Lisa Smith, also participated and provided leadership.

The Army’s adult musicians have long wished for such a camp, wondering, “Why should the kids have all the fun, not to mention time dedicated to enhancing musical skills?”

Organized by the Southern California divisional music department, led by Kevin Larsson, the camp featured special guests William Himes, O.F., who led the band track, and Gavin Whitehouse, who led the vocal track. Himes’ wife, Linda, taught the daily Bible study, focusing on the book of Jude, which at just one chapter was a perfect choice for the weekend event.

Well-known in The Salvation Army and beyond, William Himes was the Central Territory’s music and gospel arts secretary for 38 years, until his retirement in 2015. In that capacity he served as bandmaster for the Chicago Staff Band. Originally from Australia, Whitehouse is the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division’s music director. Linda Himes has served in various Salvation Army ministries and also worked for Precept Ministries, teaching people an inductive method of Bible study.

James Knaggs gave a devotion each evening at the campfire and brought the Sunday morning message. Carolyn Knaggs shared devotions at breakfast and dinner.

Music rehearsals and Bible study were balanced by afternoon free time and evening campfires, where delegates shared stories of misadventures on band/songster tours. At quiz night, campers worked together to come up with correct answers to questions of general knowledge, The Salvation Army, the Bible and music.

The Adult Bible School’s music and Bible study shared a goal: to bring people into a relationship with God. Ultimately, Jude’s message is evangelistic: God wants everyone to be saved, and he wants to work through his believers to accomplish this. The music that Salvationists perform is both a gift from God and a means of praising him, with the potential to lead people to him.

“I believe music is a gift from God,” James Knaggs said during one of his campfire devotions. He shared testimonies from some of history’s most acclaimed composers–among them Bach, Handel and Brahms–who stated that their inspiration came from God; their music expressed God’s glory and connected them with him.

The Holy Spirit’s presence was strong during Sunday’s worship service. The band and chorus presented selections, and the congregation joined for praise and worship. Suzanne Swenson, from the Tustin Ranch Corps, gave her testimony, and James Knaggs brought the message. He reminded delegates of their role as Salvationists. “You are the hope of glory. I hope you’re in harmony with the gospel.”

The weekend concluded with a Labor Day concert–the band played to the chorus, and the chorus sang to the band–followed by a barbecue lunch.

“My hope is that you leave here with a song in your heart, a song of praise to God,” Kyle Smith said.

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