The West End Community Church Gospel Arts Weekend was held 17 – 18 March 2013, entitled “Take Time to Be Holy”. This was the corps’ 22nd annual concert, which has now grown into a full gospel arts weekend. West End is located at the western end of Bermuda. The corps band consists of 19 players from different walks of life, including business workers, government officers, bankers and college students, all using their talents and abilities to honor God.
The guest for this year’s weekend was Bandsman Sheldon Fox II from North Street Citadel in Bermuda. Fox recently graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and has recently taken over the band program at a government middle school on the island. He is also developing his skills in brass band arranging and has written items for Salvation Army bands in Bermuda. Over the weekend, Fox conducted the band and ministered on the piano.
The Saturday night concert was well-attended. The master of ceremonies for the evening was Bandmaster Warren Jones, who is the divisional bandmaster for Bermuda and also serves as bandmaster at Cedar Hill Citadel. The concert kicked off with Renewed (Dean Jones), a rousing, high-spirited piece featuring the songs “O Boundless Salvation”, “Be Thou My Vision” and “The Power of Your Love”.
A myriad of gospel arts presented throughout the evening. Participants included a Women’s Dance Ministry, the Praise & Worship Team from North Street Citadel, a ladies praise group from Wesleyan Methodist Church, a saxophone soloist and a trombone soloist. Band Secretary Shonette Wilson and North Street Citadel commanding officer Major Bruce Jennings sang an uplifting duet, You Are My Hiding Place. The concert also featured soloists from the band. The first item was horn solo, He Leadeth Me (George Twitchen), played by Tamiko Ramabuke. The second soloist was YP Bandmaster Jerome Astwood (flügelhorn), who played Through It All (Andrew Mackereth). Both solos were accompanied by stirring multimedia presentations.
The weekend was supported by the corps Mission Board and corps officers Majors Curtis and Cindy Butler. Major Curtis gave a stirring devotional on being holy by using what we have in service to God, illustrated by reflecting on the life of Moses and how he used his staff.
The theme for the weekend was inspired by Paul Sharman’s song arrangement Time to Be Holy, with the band doing justice to this beautiful, soul-stirring interpretation of the well-known song. The later part of the evening included familiar items and the band “worked out their Salvation in sound”. Items included Saints Alive, Heal the World and the final item of the evening, Hands Across the Sea (Ray Steadman-Allen). A substantial donation by a local business was received during the Saturday night concert. All proceeds went to support the gospel arts ministries at West End Community Church.
The Sunday morning service was also well-attended. It was glorious spring day, with the sun shining through the windows, reflecting God’s radiance and love. The congregation celebrated and gave God thanks for the gospel arts ministries at the church.
The band led the congregation in welcoming the Holy Spirit into the sanctuary as they presented the worship song When I Look into Your Holiness (arr. Leonard Ballantine), setting the mood and spirit for the service. After prayer and a Scripture reading by Major Cindy Butler, the Praise & Worship Team presented lively and solemn choruses and testimonies.
During the tithes and offering, Bandsman Sheldon Fox II warmed the hearts of the congregation with elegant piano interpretations of old Salvation Army choruses.
Following on the reflection on Salvation Army heritage during the offertory, a Presentation Period was next on the program. At this time, the corps honored their longest-serving bandsman, first cornet player Dwayne Bulford. After his birth, doctors had said that he would never be able to read or write, let alone learn to read music or play an instrument. But God is an awesome God and worked a miracle in Dwayne’s case. Dennis Astwood and the WECC corps band beautifully presented a new cornet solo, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, written at the request of the band for this special occasion by David Catherwood. The song is one of Dwayne’s favorites. After this, Dwayne was presented with a 25-year Banding Long Service Award.
Major Curtis Butler spoke on God’s Holiness and His plea to use our gospel arts and an act of being holy unto God. This was followed by a time of reflection in prayer.
In closing, the band again accompanied the congregation, this time in a rousing rendition of I Dare to Be Different (Dick Krommenhoek). The weekend culminated in a fellowship feast at the Salt Rock Grill with friends and family, overlooking the pristine blue ocean.
THEME Online, original report by Jerome Astwood, Bermuda Division