Since our debut festival at Salisbury City corps in 2008, the group have had some rich and varied experiences together. Here is a summary of questions that we’ve been asked over the years with some hopefully, insightful answers:
“How did the group come into being? And how did you choose the players?”
This is one of the most astonishing aspects of our group! November 2008 in Salisbury City corps was very much intended as a ‘one off’. Major Geoff Parkin approached Dr Kenneth Downie about the possibility of a brass group coming to aid the 130th corps anniversary celebrations, and in turn, Kenneth asked Dean Jones if putting a group together would be possible. Having had some experience of doing a similar thing both as a member of Festival Brass and also being part of an amalgamated band once a year at his corps of Lower Earley (called ‘Salvation Brass’), it was something Dean felt he could do having seen it work well in both instances. The group was chosen really based on geographic base appropriate to Salisbury and in essence was a group of friends from various places. Most notably to that initial group was the influence of the South Western Summer School, where Dean and his wife Emma served as staff members for 6 years. Having had an afternoon of rehearsing (without a conductor…a brand new experience for many!) and sitting the ‘back row’ Cornets at the front next to the Horn section, everyone knew that this was going to be a ‘different’ kind of experience! Little did any of us know the outcome of that first day! At the interval that evening, we had 3 invitations to go to other corps’. This wasn’t either the aim, or the expectation of that day. But that is how we started and we believe it was the will of God that made it possible.
“How has the group evolved since?”
Both in personnel and in our planning, there have been natural steps taken since that very first engagement. The first year or so was very much ‘learning on the job’. Our very first Sunday afternoon meeting in Bridgwater corps lasted nearly 2.5 hours!! The way we plan not only the content and structure of our programmes but also our agenda has vastly improved. We’ve met some wonderful people along the way…friends of friends that have come into the group when needed. Some have now become mainstays within our first choice line up; and certainly we have some great ‘go to’ people that we can bring in wherever possible. We have never had the same group twice for consecutive engagements! We may not have even had the same group twice, ever! We are close to having had 100 players play within the group since 2008! What is wonderful is that our philosophy of creativity within worship and also a sense of unity have always been evident. Yes, we have made adjustments and the group are constantly appraising their ministry. But our style of being authentic and engaging has been firmly in place from day 1. We have always encouraged family members to not only be with us, but to be a valued part of the ministry by contributing publically and in practical support. We consider Salvation Brass to be a family. Prayer and strong fellowship has been the backbone of making that style possible. The group are not afraid to evolve further and will embrace that as and when the Spirit prompts.
“How does the ministry of Salvation Brass affect local corps settings?”
This is a very key component to our purpose as a group and can be seen both ‘internally’ and ‘externally’. Within the group, we often have somewhere around 15 corps’ settings represented. That in itself is a lot of potential influence. We see that people coming along to be a part of the ministry of our engagements will have a positive effect upon the corps they are from. We have been fortunate enough to share examples of the way in which the ministry we have presented as a group, has then proved effective and affirming in our local settings. Some of the corps bands represented within the group have used some of the ideas and content that Salvation Brass have employed. This is tremendously heartening to us all as a group of Christian friends and we have been keen to support each other in this way. Individual gifts have been brought to the fore and a higher sense of confidence and self-worth, which again have made tangible differences back in corps’ settings. For those we minister to, we have had the opportunity to connect as time has evolved; and not only have we had the privilege of returning to a large percentage of our hosts, but also seen and heard of wonderful differences since our visit. Our prayer as Salvationist musicians is always that our efforts make a sincere difference to the Kingdom of God and we have been blessed in the knowledge that this has happened (click here for ‘Host Feedback’ page of feedback). God has been good to us and has honoured our efforts. We can confidently wait on Him to continue this wonderful giving and receiving aspect of his blessings within our ministry.
“What are the key features of any Salvation Brass engagement?”
That’s a really good question! It requires a broader answer than merely the content aspect that it alludes to. What we have found is that the planning process is key to our engagements. We pray that the Spirit will gently lead us to the right plans and this is done through diligent prayer and communication well in advance. Our hosting corps’ are sent a number of resources that aid us all in our preparation; from a questionnaire regarding practicalities, right though to a prayer request list that we fully engage into in the lead up to each visit. No two engagements look the same! We embrace the ideals and the various ingredients that make each host who and what they are; at the same time, we have a responsibility to continue exploring new possibilities within worship and evangelism. What you will undoubtedly see, is the group at ease within creative worship…the way we interact through our presentations through variety and the use of multimedia are both key components. We would hope that if you came to see us, you’d leave having laughed, felt uplifted, challenged and above all, loved by our Father God. If we achieve those objectives through God’s Spirit and fervent prayer, then feel it has been a victory in the name of Jesus.
“What are the next plans and hopes for the group?”
We can only go where we are invited. Yes, we can create opportunities, but our integrity to God’s call upon us is prescribed by his time and plans. If no-one was to invite the group in the future and the calendar looked empty, then this would be the time to say that the group has completed its work in the Lord’s time. It’s not a given that we are here to stay for good; we simply want to be obedient to God’s plans and timings. For now, we do have a number of invitations that we hope to fulfil and currently, the band is booked 3 years in advance. This is exciting for us as people who appreciate engaging in worship and ministry and we are looking forward to honouring all of these invitations. We tend to have 3 weekends per year plus 1 or maybe 2 further events. These can range from a week day playing in public, to a 5 day tour of Canada; there have been some wonderfully enriching experiences both undertaken and planned. The group had their very first Retreat weekend in January 2014 to celebrate 5 years of ministry – it was a wonderful time in many ways! We hope to repeat this in the summer of 2016. Also only a few weeks later, we recorded our very first CD ‘Delight!’ (click here) and this was a highly rewarding experience. So we are in the Lord’s hands with as to where and how we will be used and this will always remain the case.
If you would like to ask the group a question either online on Facebook or Twitter they will only be too pleased to hear from you. Also feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be delighted to respond.