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SA Worship Leaders Conference 2022

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Worship is an essential element of our relationship with Christ - both personally in our everyday lives and together as the body of Christ. On Sunday mornings, you will find live praise and worship in the majority of our corps. This past January, 60 Salvationist worship leaders gathered at the Eastern Territorial Headquarters in West Nyack, N.Y., for a Salvation Army Worship Leaders Conference designed to equip them to lead people in high-quality, God-honouring worship.


More than just providing tools and techniques, it emphasized the leaders’ own relationships with the Lord and proved to be a powerful time of renewal for individuals. Each united session built upon the next, from the keynote where Shalini Danielson encouraged delegates toward all heart worship, to the final Sunday with a worship circle where Commissioner Mark Tillsley (Eastern Territorial Theology and Christian Ethics Secretary) spoke compellingly about personal holiness.


Informative and practical workshops were led by territorial contemporary worship experts, including those who planned the conference: Josh Turner (USA Central), Doug Berry (USA Eastern), Josh Powell (USA Southern), Simon Gough (Canada and Bermuda), and Matt Woods (USA Western). 


Doug Berry shared more regarding efforts needed to plan this ministry weekend:


“I can’t say enough about the group that helped put this event together. When you’re planning with likeminded, humble, and Spirit-driven people, God’s will manifests itself. The pandemic certainly had its hand in derailing many details prepared for the weekend, even minutes prior to the first session, but the committee, along with the Eastern Territorial Worship Band UNBOUND, handled each pivot in stride! We planned for a weekend of deepening connection with the Lord, and I boldly claim that it was achieved. Praise be to God. Another key component to the success of the event was the leading and teaching of our guests, Outside Worship (Marty Mikles, Anna Street, Phil Laeger). They poured out not only their expertise in worship leading, but deep and intentional connections with the delegates.”


Delegates had the opportunity to learn from some of the best worship leaders, songwriters, singers, and instrumentalists in The Salvation Army. One could see the transformation in young songwriters as they learned from artists like Phil Laeger who encouraged delegates by saying, “Anointed days of Salvation Army songwriting are ahead of us.”

Community was an essential element of this weekend. Josh Powell said, “One of my favourite aspects of The Salvation Army Worship Leaders Conference is the fellowship among the delegates. You could think of it as networking for sure, but there is a deeper, innate relationship; a brother/sisterhood that extends beyond the usual conference meet and greet. When you meet these worship leaders from other territories, you know they have been in the same trenches you have. They share the same struggles and challenges and know the joys of the same triumphs. I saw many of them praying with each other, sharing tips or strategies that have worked in their own ministries, and exchanging contact information so they can stay in touch. The classes and teaching are incredibly helpful for sure, but to me, this fellowship of ministers is just as important and enriching.”


“I have been praying that the conference would renew, challenge, and ignite our worship leaders and their walk with the Lord,” said Josh Turner. “The Holy Spirit showed up in mighty ways! I am excited to see how the lessons, experiences, and conversations will continue to reverberate throughout our territory and North America as He ‘who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished.”


The training at the Worship Leaders Conference supports the upcoming virtual Music and Arts Leadership Academy, a learning platform for various expressions of arts. Looking to the future, these types of opportunities for Salvationists will continue to be provided. The Salvation Army needs worship leaders and songwriters who are passionate about Christ, serving His people, and making excellent music as an offering to God.


If your corps needs assistance to grow your contemporary music ministries, please don’t hesitate to reach out to those who can assist you. The Salvation Army is a community where soldiers strengthen and encourage one another. The Worship Leaders Conference was a perfect example of this fellowship, community, and growth. To God be the glory!

Article by Brett Tolcher

USA Central Territorial Music and Worship Arts Ministries Secretary

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