On Thursday, July 27, 2023, more than 30 members of the Canadian Staff Songsters, Major Len Ballantine, their leader, and Lt-Colonel John Murray, executive officer (and chapel Bible study leader for the week), arrived in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to participate in camp meetings, along with the New York Staff Band (NYSB). Upon arrival, Commissioners William and Lorraine Bamford, territorial leaders, U.S.A. Eastern Territory, welcomed the CSS during rehearsal and prayed over them to be used by God.
The Salvation Army Old Orchard Beach camp meetings are an annual gathering that take place at the Seaside Pavilion and the Old Orchard Beach Pier, lasting several days. The main focus of the camp meetings and pier ministry is to provide a space for spiritual renewal and growth through worship services, Bible studies, prayer meetings and other activities. The camp meetings and pier festival are also an opportunity for attendees to connect with others who share their faith and to build relationships that can last a lifetime. Meetings are open to people of all ages and backgrounds.
On Friday, July 28, the CSS joined with the NYSB in concert at the Old Orchard Beach Corps. From old-time spirituals to sacred choral compositions to contemporary arrangements of Christian hymns, the congregation was uplifted and filled with renewed strength.
To conclude the service, the CSS and NYSB presented I Have Seen the Glory, based on Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
On Saturday, July 29, the CSS and NYSB were in concert at the Seaside Pavilion for the camp meeting opening celebration. The pavilion was built in 1998, in the location where The Salvation Army camp meetings have been conducted since 1885. The theme for the evening was “God is Working…in our World.”
Selections by the CSS included Make His Praise Glorious, They Could Not and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (with the NYSB and congregation).
The devotional was presented by Commissioner Mark Tillsley, currently serving at the College for Officer Training and territorial commander’s office in the U.S.A. Eastern Territory. His compelling message encouraged all to look at how God wants to work in the world, through us.
On Sunday, July 30, once again at the Seaside Pavilion, the morning’s focus was “God is Working…in our Lives.” Nestled in the middle of what is now known as the “old camp meeting grounds neighbourhood,” attendees were blessed and encouraged by the CSS and NYSB. Presentations by the CSS included I Will Rejoice, Hallowed by Your Name and Bless the Lord, O My Soul.
A highlight of the service for many was the heavenly harmony that filled the air when more than 100 members of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) choir sang God is Working.
The Sunday morning message was delivered by Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, U.S.A. Eastern Territory. He delivered powerful words suggesting that if there is something in our lives separating us from Jesus, we have to get rid of it.
To conclude the service, CSS members surrounded the pavilion, which was accented by cool ocean breezes and the scent of Maine pine trees, to support soloist Karen Gross as she sang I Love You, Lord. The spirit of God was present through the words of the song: “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh, my soul, rejoice.”
On Sunday afternoon, the CSS joined in the march of witness from the top of Old Orchard Street to the town square and participated with the NYSB at a camp meeting at the Pier. Lt-Colonel John Murray delivered a devotional message in keeping with the theme for the camp meetings, “God is Working.”
The Sunday evening service at the Seaside Pavilion was one of praise and testimony with the theme “God is Working…in our Church.” CSS selections included Shine On, Special Place and Sing for Joy. Canadian Staff Songster Rochelle McAlister shared her testimony, encouraging all to trust God and do what his spirit prompts us to do.
The message was delivered by Major Michael Himes, corps officer, encouraging all to make godly choices.
Sharing the Gospel
On Tuesday, August 1, the CSS and NYSB shared the gospel through music once again at the pavilion. It was a bittersweet evening, as it would be the last event led by their current leader, Major Len Ballantine.
The Canada and Bermuda Territory’s vocal ministry received a boost in the fall of 2016 with the formation of the CSS, under the leadership of Major Ballantine. In its early days, The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda had a staff songster brigade, but such a group had not existed for about 100 years.
The CSS helped set the tone for the meeting with Let There be Praise, Joyful, Joyful from Sister Act and More of You (soloist Ron Hustins).
Major Ballantine delivered devotional thoughts based on Ephesians 3:14-18: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
The week at Old Orchard Beach brought renewal, refreshment and much joy to members of the CSS who were delighted to minister together, celebrate their faith and make music for God’s glory.
Neil W. Leduke is the territorial director of marketing and communications.