The West End Corps (West End Community Church) Band (Bandmaster Jerome Astwood) made the long journey from Bermuda to northwestern Ontario to perform at the 100th anniversary celebrations at Fort Frances Corps 3 – 8 April 2014. During the visit, the band played several engagements, including a march through town and multiple concerts, and supported Sunday worship.
Thursday, 3 April 2014
Members of the band gathered at L. F. Wade International Airport in the morning. There had been some issues in the preparations for the trip, but there were no problems with the instruments once the band arrived at the airport. The first stop was in Toronto, where the band picked up another member, Bandsman Ronnie Astwood, who is attending school there. The journey continued by air to Thunder Bay, and then by coach on the four-hour ride to Fort Frances. The band arrived at the hotel late in the evening, with light snow falling, cool and tired but all well.
Friday, 4 April 2014
On Friday morning, the band was greeted by Lieutenants Dennis and Mary Maybury, Fort Frances corps officers, and Majors Wayne and Deborah Bungay, divisional leaders of the Prairie Division. The group had breakfast together with a devotional led by Dennis Astwood.
The group then traveled to Rainy River Rest Home, where they played for over 100 residents. Items included the march Morning Glory and the hymn tune arrangement Llanfair. The band also accompanied the residents in singing “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Major Curtis Butler, West End corps officer, brought a stirring devotional. During the visit, several long-serving Salvation Army soldiers who reside at the home were honored for their faithful service and commitment. There are two ladies, both over 80 years old, who still faithfully attend the corps. Local newspaper and television media were present and conducted interviews with the Mayburys, Bandmaster Astwood, Major Bungay and Bandsman Steve Bean.
The band was then whisked off to share in a March of Witness through the town, which was cold but very effective. Players had to watch out for puddles and ice along the route which was a challenge. The town folk gave the marches a warm reception as the band played some good old hymn tunes. The march ended at the corps, where pictures were taken outside with the Ontario Provincial Police escort. There is real respect in Fort Frances for the Salvation Army and Lieutenants Maybury.
After a quick lunch, the band conducted an afternoon assembly concert at the area high school, with over 250 students in attendance. The West End ladies’ vocal group, Jabulani, led a sing-song. It was an awesome sight to see the teenage students interact with the group. The band played upbeat items like Maidenhead 125 and Saints Alive!. There was a standing ovation, with concluded with This I Know (William Himes). Many parents thanked the band for lifting up the name of Jesus as prayer is not allowed at the school.
The band then went to the New Beginnings Church to set up for the Saturday concert. After setting up and doing a sound check, the band had a short rehearsal.
Saturday, 5 April 2014
The band had Saturday morning off. There was a late morning devotional after breakfast led by Bandsman Eldon Lambert. Some of the group rested while some ventured out to do some shopping. By this time, the weather had cleared and really warmed up.
On Saturday afternoon the band held a well-attended concert in support of area volunteers. Items from the band included Maidenhead 125 and Renewed. Also featured was a guitar/vocal soloist from the town. Jabulani sang, bringing the house down with Jesus, You’re the Center of My Joy (Richard Smallwood), featuring Lieutenant Mary Maybury as the soloist. Fort Frances Corps honored several dedicated volunteers and Major Bungay brought the Word. The West End Blacklight Mime Ministry impressed the crowd.
Also during the concert, Demara Maybury (the Lieutenants’ daughter) danced and joined the band as they played People Need the Lord (Erik Silfverberg). The group from Bermuda took the time to share little gifts from the island with the guests as well. The band closed the concert with Give to Jesus Glory and the tribute march Fort Frances Centennial, composed by Sheldon Fox II for this occasion.
After the concert, everyone stayed and enjoyed fellowship in the church hall over food and the 100th anniversary cake. Later that evening, the band shared in a dinner at La Flambé, a restaurant owned and operated by a chef from Morocco who formerly worked in Bermuda. The food was awesome and the ambiance was welcoming.
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Sunday was a full day of worship, starting with an 11:00 am worship service at Fort Frances Corps. The service was well-attended and the Lieutenants remarked that this was the largest attendance in their time there. The band played a prelude which consisted of worship songs such as His Provision, Holy Spirit Rain Down and Be Still for the Presence of the Lord. After Lt. Dennis Maybury welcomed folk to the Centennial service, one of the eldest members of the corps faithfully read the Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew. During the offering and tithes, the band played Give Thanks. Bandmaster Astwood shared his testimony and played the trumpet solo To God Be the Glory (Douglas Court). Major Bungay brought the Word – based around the Easter story and Christ’s redemption for the world.
The band had a quick lunch and then returned to New Beginnings Church for an afternoon multi-denominational community service. Jabulani led a rousing chorus sing which was enjoyed by all. There were tributes to the Salvation Army from evangelical and Anglican church leaders. Also, an envoy now serving in Minnesota shared early stories of the Salvation Army in Fort Frances and her conversion testimony. Major Deborah Bungay brought the word, challenging the audience to remain faithful in the Lord’s service.
Monday, 7 April 2014
On Monday morning, the band checked out of the hotel, boarding the bus for Thunder Bay at noon. Major Butler prayed for safe travel and for God’s provision over Lieutenants Maybury and the Fort Frances Corps. There was Bermuda Gombey music playing on the bus stereo for the Mayburys as they left the bus after thanking the band again. after a relaxing, four-hour bus ride, the band arrived in Thunder Bay and boarded a plane for Toronto, arriving at their hotel there late in the evening.
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
The band departed the hotel in Toronto for Pearson International Airport at 5:00 am. All of the members felt changed and fulfilled from the ministry trip. They arrived back in Bermuda greeted by the midday sun and family and corps members. They thank God for the great things He had done in and through them over the Fort Frances Corps centennial celebrations. For His Glory!
Original report submitted by Bandmaster Jerome Astwood