It can be said that when The Salvation Army discovered brass bands and joined lively music hall melodies to gospel lyrics it was effectively deploying the popular musical medium of the Victorian day for strategic missional purposes. It is the stuff of legend.
Fast forward a century and the same happened again with the UK Salvationist group The Joystrings, jumping right into 1960’s swinging beatnik culture with singable pop tunes and gospel lyrics, appearing on primetime TV and playing in the Playboy Club. Great stuff.
It is in light of this storied heritage that the USA East commissioned Unbound in 2016 to add another important component to the considerable musical mission of the territory. While a semblance of the group was already occasionally contributing in various gatherings this was a decisive and formal action, and the ensemble quickly established themselves as a valued part of local, divisional and territorial musical life.
It was NYSB member Doug Berry who was charged with starting the ensemble. While earnestly desired by a generation of Salvationist young adults, the contemporary Christian music art form is notably distinct from the brass band culture or classical hymn singing tradition, and bridging the two is not necessarily easy or natural. Coming with impeccable brass and banding credentials and respected for his personal integrity, Doug was ideally suited for the task and today he still embodies the heart and mission of Unbound. Safe to say, the band is a reliably beautiful contributor to our territorial life and worship, and the raw musical talent of the members is remarkable.
‘Excellence and authenticity in worship can co-exist,’ says Doug, ‘but only if it manifests in our approach and in our hearts.’ It is this focus that often enables Unbound to set the tone of worship in large and significant territorial gatherings, to the benefit of us all.
In the 7-year ministry to-date of Unbound two events especially stand out for Doug, the opportunity to serve in the Japan territory Youth Congress, and the livestreamed ‘NYC Rooftop Worship Night.’ ‘It was such an incredible moment to worship the Lord with the skyline of Manhattan all around us. Definitely a mountain top experience,’ recalls Doug.
These are strategic days for Unbound as Doug Berry will now be taking on formal responsibility as territorial Director of Special Events, playing a pivotal role in numerous high profile events.
Congratulations, Doug. And, thank you Unbound. You have helped set us all free, and surely the best is yet to come.