Central forms new Territorial Staff Songsters
by Evie Polsley
“Our purpose is to proclaim God’s story.” This simple yet powerful statement to the Central Territorial Staff Songsters (CTSS) by their executive officer, Major Miriam Gorton, set the mission for the recently formed group at their inaugural rehearsal.
Led by Territorial Music and Creative Arts Ministries Secretary Dr. Harold Burgmayer, and assisted by Jonathon Weller, the new songster brigade—composed of 41 Salvationists representing a wide age range and all corners of the territory—blended their voices in praise as they grew as musicians and proclaimers of the gospel.
Strangers became friends during an icebreaker where members shared silly facts like their connection to the circus, the advantage of being tall or short, or their love/hate relationship with chocolate. The beauty of budding relationships shone through their singing.
Intense times of rehearsing notes, digging into the text and better understanding what they were singing were interspersed with breaks to focus on proclaiming God’s story through their lives. Devotions by Captain Kelly Hanton and Priscilla Burgmayer helped focus the songsters’ ministry on bringing glory to God not only through music but through their daily witness. Tears flowed and new bonds formed as members broke into small groups to share and pray for each other.
“After many months of planning and working through the audition process, we came together wondering what our Territorial Staff Songsters would look and sound like,” said Harold. “I am delighted with the excellent hard work and music-making happening but even more with how quickly the group is bonding as a ministry family.”
Carolyn Romin concurred, “It’s like we created a family after only knowing each other for just a couple of days.”
Proclaiming “This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long,” on the final day, the songsters affirmed their songs can be more than just beautiful music; they can be a reflection of God’s love and redeeming power.
“I believe the message of our songs will really speak to people’s hearts,” said Major Cassandra DeJesús. Major Tim Meyer agreed, “The Holy Spirit will bring many people into God’s presence for salvation and sanctification through our singing. It is a sacred honor and privilege to be part of this group.”
The weekend concluded with the songsters surrounding the delegates of the North American Composers Forum singing the benediction “Go in peace. Go in love,” (Lee Fisher) which echoed ethereally through the territorial headquarters atrium.
“Singing in the songsters has reminded me how much music plays a part in my walk with the Lord. Nothing calms my heart and spirit more than singing to God. Singing is a united prayer of praise and adoration. I’m so happy I have been given this opportunity,” said Major Charlotte Hall.
Central Territorial Staff Songsters
Dr. Harold Burgmayer, Leader
Major Miriam Gorton, Executive Officer
Captain Kelly Hanton, Chaplain
Jonathon Weller, Deputy Songster Leader
Major Cassandra DeJesús – Metropolitan
Major Heather Holman – Western Michigan/Northern Indiana
Jill Romin – Metropolitan
Major Rachel Stouder – Indiana
Lt. Heidi Strand – Kansas/Western Missouri
Laurie Strand – Metropolitan
Captain Brianne Bowers – Indiana
Sandy Cabrera – Kansas/Western Missouri
Major Charlotte Hall – Midland
Evie Polsley – Metropolitan
Emily Romin – Metropolitan
Priscilla Burgmayer – Metropolitan
Heather Hanton – Metropolitan
Abigail Jobson – Eastern Michigan
Allison Jordan – Metropolitan
Carolyn Romin – Metropolitan
Elizabeth Carr – Western Michigan/Northern Indiana
Brigitte Ferguson – Metropolitan
Jan Kelley – Wisconsin & Upper Michigan
Sarah Leka – Metropolitan
Marissa Riley – Metropolitan
Jon Heaver – Kansas/Western Missouri
Marc Smith – Metropolitan
David Tippol – Northern
Major Curtiss Hartley – Kansas/Western Missouri
Stan Kelley – Wisconsin/Upper Michigan
Jude St.-Aime – Metropolitan
Envoy Scott Hurula – Metropolitan
Major Tim Meyer – Eastern Michigan
Major Heath Sells – Heartland
Major Ken Shiels – Kansas/Western Missouri
Graham Weller Eastern Michigan
Karl Strand Metropolitan
Richard Thalman Northern
Major Kathy Hellstrom – Eastern Michigan
Cashus Saydee – Midland
Isaac Leka – Metropolitan