Hundreds of Salvationists and friends are gathered in London, Ont., for a weekend of praise and worship as the Canada and Bermuda Territory celebrates the commissioning and ordination of the Messengers of Light Session of cadets.

A massed chorus leads the congregation in the singing of Storm the Forts A massed chorus leads the congregation in the singing of Storm the Forts

Public events kicked off Friday, June 24, with a Festival of Music at the London Convention Centre. Major Morris Vincent, divisional commander of the Ontario Great Lakes Division, offered words of welcome to the hundreds gathered for the festival.

Packed with a variety of musical expressions, the evening featured the Canadian Staff Band (CSB), led by Bandmaster John Lam, a massed chorus from Guelph Citadel, London Citadel and South Windsor Citadel, led by Heather Osmond, assistant territorial secretary for music and gospel arts, and Neon, the newly formed territorial worship team who made its debut at the festival.

Earlier that day, officers gathered at London Citadel for officers' councils, where many were honoured to receive recognition for their years of service to The Salvation Army.

Joyful Expressions of Praise
A video presentation of “The Army in London, Yesterday and Today,” preceded the CSB's joyful performance of Light Song (Kenneth Smith), their first of several outstanding presentations throughout the evening. A musical highlight was the band's rendition of Escape Velocity (Martin Cordner), a fast-moving and intricate piece that showcased the musical talent of the band members.

Neon, with Simon Gough, debuts Messenger of Light Neon, with Simon Gough, debuts Messenger of Light

A particularly exciting moment was the performance by the CSB, Neon and the massed chorus of Messenger of Light (Simon Gough, arr. Rachel Ewing). Adding to the fun of the evening, glow sticks were distributed throughout the congregation that were joyfully waved in the air as the congregation stood to sing Send the Fire.

Jason Brinson, corps sergeant-major at Brantford Community Church, shared his testimony via video, expressing his desire to share the light of Christ with those living in spiritual darkness. “The Lord will provide us with the means to be The Salvation Army of today,” he said, “and The Salvation Army of tomorrow.”

The massed chorus echoed his thoughts as they performed We Lift You Up (Ian and Isobel Robinson). “Lord, fill our hearts with love and compassion,” they sang, “for the ones who are lost and alone.”

Bright Future for Music Ministry
Colonel Mark Tillsley, chief secretary, took to the stage to make a special announcement regarding the future of music ministry in the Canada and Bermuda Territory. “On behalf of the territorial commander, I am pleased to announce the formation of the Canadian Staff Songsters, which will be based out of territorial headquarters in Toronto,” he said. Following a warm round of applause, Colonel Tillsley explained the purpose for the new group. “The Canadian Staff Songsters will endeavour, by its example, to set the standard for all aspects of Salvation Army vocal ministry,” he shared, “including worship, evangelism and integrated mission.”

Under the leadership of Major Len Ballantine, the Canadian Staff Songsters is anticipated to make its inaugural performance this Christmas. Lt-Colonel Wendy Waters, assistant territorial secretary for women's ministries, will serve as the executive officer of the group.

Looking Beyond Ourselves
Following Neon's presentation of Shine (Matt Redman) and the massed chorus' performance of Total Praise (Richard Smallwood), Major Keith Pike, territorial youth secretary, shared a lighthearted devotional thought that presented a real spiritual truth.

“We live in a world with those who are obsessed with themselves,” he said as he demonstrated by taking selfies with the congregation, the CSB, the massed chorus and Neon. He encouraged those gathered to move beyond a self-centred approach to life by looking first to God and then to others.

The festival of music came to a conclusion with the congregation and all musical groups joining together to sing praises to God through the words of Soldiers' Hymn (Laeger/Mikles, arr. Himes).

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World premiere of "Messenger of Light" at #commissioning2016 #SalvationArmy #messengersoflight

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