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Mar26FriSalvation Army brings joy through music during the pandemic. March 26, 2021 by Caroline Franks
This past year, The Salvation Army’s Rideau Heights church band in Kingston, Ont., was interested in playing outside longterm care homes in the area to bring joy to residents. Because of the pandemic, however, they were unable to enter any of the homes for several months.
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But on a Sunday last October, the brass band received permission to perform—socially distancing themselves, of course—outside Kingsdale Chateau, a retirement home in Kingston, and played some of the residents’ favourite songs. This is where Ineta Skepple, a longtime member of The Salvation Army, lived.
“Our band played at five different spots outside the building, so residents could see and hear us from their rooms,” says Lieutenant Thomas Marsh, Rideau Heights’ co-pastor. “They were extremely grateful, many singing from inside their rooms.”
The Salvation Army band particularly enjoyed the concert, as it had been seven long months since they had performed together.
“The last spot we played was outside Ineta Skepple’s room,” Lieutenant Thomas says. “Years ago, she led our church’s community care ministries, a visitation program that provides the opportunity for Salvation Army pastors and volunteers to minister to people with special needs, physical impairments and the older adult community. Over the years, she ushered many into the church—including one of our band members who became involved because of Ineta. She was a faithful volunteer, and she also conducted many Bible studies.”
Outside Ineta’s room, the band played O Boundless Salvation, a hymn composed by the co-founder of The Salvation Army, General William Booth. During the song, she raised herself from her walker-seat, and clapped and cheered to God.
“As we got to the part in the song where we played, ‘And now, hallelujah! The rest of my days, shall gladly be spent in promoting His praise who opened His bosom to pour out this sea of boundless salvation for you and for me,’ it brought tears to many, as Ineta’s frail hands clapped louder than our band,” continues Lieutenant Thomas. “It was as if she was praising her God, in her own way, for God’s faithfulness through the years.
“It was a moment that I find difficult to explain with words, as the moment was holy and transcendent.”
Six days after the band’s performance, Ineta passed away.
“I received a text from the program director and the bandmaster both expressing their gratitude and how God’s timing is perfect,” says Lieutenant Thomas. “I am always surprised by the truth that God takes our plans and uses them for bigger things. I love when that happens. I am humbled by these moments and extremely grateful to bear witness to the timing of God.”