West holds first Worship Arts Retreat

Over 90 delegates participate at Camp Kuratli.

by Joy Lee – 

Richard Bosanko (left) supports guest Phil Laeger during the recent Worship Arts Retreat.

The Western Territory’s first Worship Arts Retreat convened in Cascade Division’s Camp Kuratli from February 9-11. Although drizzles greeted the over 90 participants, the weather did not dampen the positive spirit that prevailed throughout the weekend.

Special guests were Phil Laeger, Eastern Territory; Bernie Dake, Southern Territory; and the Bill Booth Theater Company, Central Territory. They led the united sessions in praise and worship and drama, setting a high standard for the arts in ministry with their spiritual maturity, musicianship and talent.

Well-known for his ability to re-make traditional songs, Laeger introduced choruses such as “Thank you Lord for Saving My Soul” with a flavor of gospel and funk. The Bill Booth Theater Company’s humorous and poignant drama presentations prompted reflection on today’s church and Christianity. The troupe demonstrated the creative use of music with drama through live accompaniment in selected performances, and the use of technology in the mini-musical, Suddenly Salvos.

Major Warren Dabis, speaker for the weekend, emphasized the value of preparation and practice to eliminate distractions and to offer the best worship to God. “The ‘hour on Sunday’ is a result of what happens behind the scenes,” said Kathi Kelly from Sierra del Mar Division. “There is a lot of work to make the worship time a blessing to all.”

Workshops included drama, Latin dance, sacred dance, hip-hop, mime, praise and worship (percussion, keyboard, guitar), media, and discipleship. “The workshops I took, drama and discipleship, were both excellent yet so different. There was much to think about and useful information to bring back to the corps,” said Kelly.

Speaking of the importance of the arts, Neil Smith, territorial music secretary, stated: “The arts are widely used, but not always well rehearsed or even valued in some places.” He envisions retreats such as this to provide encouragement, training and resources for leaders to maximize the effectiveness of ministry at the local corps.

Captain Raymond Erickson-King, corps officer in Richland, Wash., has taken practical steps to spur changes at the local level by evaluating corporate worship and developing a worship committee. “We need to look at creative ways to use the arts that bring people closer to God,” said Erickson-King. “William Booth always used the latest technology to share and spread the gospel of God, so why can’t we use the arts? This is something that ministry leaders needed to hear to refresh our minds and souls, because our worship is the heartbeat of everything we do.”

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