ARC Choir – Maestro Evie Wilson!

by Colonel Richard Munn

Attendees to the Old Orchard Beach (OOB) camp meetings will readily attest to the powerful impact of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) massed choir in recent years. The sheer size of the group and the force of the music, let alone the attendant testimonies embodied in each singer, all combine for an absorbing contribution into the camp meeting series. Quite simply, the group has quickly become a camp meeting favorite, as the sustained standing ovations demonstrate. You have to have a heart of stone if you are not moved.

Such a gathering and presentation does not happen casually or by accident. Indeed, part of the delight in the presentation is the sight of solitary conductor Major Evie Wilson, standing dynamically before this multitude of people, totally in control, every eye locked on her, ready to follow her leading.

Let’s hear from Evie herself for the story behind the story:

How long have you been leading the ARC Choir at the OOB camp meetings?

EW: Let me first say what a privilege it has been for me to lead many choirs throughout the years. This 2023 group at the OOB Camp Meetings seemed to have an instant connection and unity that made this so impactful. My first years leading this choir were 2017–19. Camp Meetings then took a break for COVID, and this was the first year the choir has been back! We thank Lt. Cols James and Sue Betts for allowing the choir to come back. However, when they asked if I would lead it, I accepted without hesitation.

Where do members of the choir come from?

EW: The choir consists of beneficiaries from the New England Centers: Springfield, Providence, Boston, Worcester and Portland. In addition are the ARC officers from all over the territory.

How many rehearsals do you arrange before the final performance?

EW: We have always had the one united rehearsal set up for us in Old Orchard on Saturday afternoon. We quickly found that this wasn’t quite enough time, so the last couple of times we have joined together, I have met at two Centers for a rehearsal to at least get a head start before the united rehearsal. This year we met in Springfield and Portland. About half of the participants were able to make it to one of those rehearsals. That meant that Saturday was the first time we were all together for a single rehearsal to be ready for Sunday. At each rehearsal we prayed for God’s anointing on this opportunity. The beneficiaries were quickly connected to the lyrics of both songs because of the work God was already doing in their lives. This group had such a wonderful spirit.

What is the experience of the singers, contributing to the camp meetings?

EW: The beneficiaries quickly understood that their testimony was evidence that God is alive and active in this present age and singing together was a public witness and an opportunity to encourage others. I had many conversations with beneficiaries at the rehearsals and camp meetings about how excited they were to be part of something like this and so grateful to God for the transformation they are experiencing. They really are an inspiration to those of us who desperately need to be reminded God is working, even when we don’t see how. What a privilege it is to be part of their journey with God.

It was a pleasure having so many women in the choir this year! This was the first time we have featured the women and it was inspiring to hear their confidence in what they were singing.

Any final thoughts for our readers, Evie?

EW: There were so many beneficiaries that I interacted with who were so positive, grateful to God and glad to experience a new life. Additionally, the ARC officers that participated in the choir have expressed how much they enjoyed standing alongside the men and women, sharing this moment with them. As a choir, we are all blessed that God gave us this experience together! What a wonderful memory this will always be for all who participated, and the congregation’s response was also an unforgettable moment for the beneficiaries. To God be the Glory!

Thank you Major Maestro Evie, I think we are already looking forward to next year.