Staff Songsters on tour
Western Territory Staff Songsters travel to Guam and Japan.
The Western Territory Staff Songsters, led by Staff Songster leader Barbara Allen, undertook an 11-day music ministry tour Oct. 12-23 to Guam and Tokyo, in conjunction with the visit of Salvation Army international leaders General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox.
In Guam, the Songsters spent a day in rehearsals before embarking on their music ministry responsibilities, beginning with the annual “Hope and Honor” gala, recognizing those who partner with The Salvation Army in the work of transforming lives. Several dignitaries from the island attended, along with the Coxes and USA Western Territorial leaders Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs. The Songsters repertoire included “Come As You Are” (Israel Houghton) from their new recording of the same name. Following the banquet the Songsters joined the Guam Territorial Band to sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Earlier in the day both the Songsters and the band presented a joint concert at Micronesia Mall; crowds of people stopped to listen.
On Sunday the Staff Songsters worshipped at the Guam Corps. Following the service, they presented the corps with a keyboard on behalf of the Western Territory to be used for the corps’ growing youth and music ministries.
“It was exciting to see so many young people actively involved in developing their musical talents to be used at the Guam Corps,” Allen said. “What an encouraging sight to see so many young, upcoming musicians with a desire to use their talents for the Lord.”
In Tokyo, the Songsters split into four smaller vocal groups to minister to those on several different wards at a local Salvation Army hospital and home for the elderly. That evening the presented a program, “My Journey,” at the Suginawa Corps to a capacity crowd. Those unable to find a seat were accommodated in an adjacent room where they viewed a live stream of the concert. In a special tribute to the 20,000 Japanese lives lost in the tsunami of 2011, the Songsters sang, in Japanese, a song written to commemorate the tragedy, “Hana wa Saku” (“Flowers Will Bloom”). Many in the audience wept openly as the Songsters sang.
The group performed at the Tokyo City Opera House Oct. 21, with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Japan Staff Band. Highlights included their rendition of “Shall We Gather?” complete with choreography, and the finale of Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance” with the Songsters singing “Land of Hope and Glory.”
During the tour’s final two days. the Songsters were special music guests at the Japan Congress, supporting the international leaders. They presented a full 30-minute program on Saturday as part of the Congress meeting and ministered on Sunday morning and afternoon, when the General’s call to officership brought many individuals, couples and families to the front of the hall, ready to dedicate their lives to God’s service, as the Songsters sang “I Will Wait For You” (Len Ballantine).
Later, the Western Territory Staff Songsters joined the Japan Staff band, Japan Territorial leaders Colonels Kenneth and Cheryl Maynor, and officers and soldiers of the Japan Territory for a march of witness around the center of Tokyo, receiving the salute from General Cox and Commissioner Cox.
The Songsters returned home, touched by the warmth of the people they met and blessed by their time in fellowship with other Salvationists.
“Seeing The Salvation Army at work in Guam and Japan has encouraged us in our own walk,” Allen said. “To experience the fellowship of the officers and soldiers in both parts of the world is something that we as a group will never forget. We began our tour praying that our music would be a blessing to those who heard it and that the Holy Spirit would use our ministry; we came away, having been blessed beyond measure ourselves by the joy of worshipping with fellow believers in totally different cultures and languages than our own. So far apart geographically, yet one in the Spirit, serving the same Savior as a body of believers together. Now that is a life changer!”