Originally published online at Run of the Millfield, a hyperlocal website focused on the Millfield suburb of Sunderland, on March 11th 2013.
Sunderland Millfield Salvation Army are holding concerts this weekend as brass band Fanfara come to town.
The Salvation Army celebrates its 150th year in 2015 and, in the same year, it will be the 125th anniversary of the Sunderland Millfield corps.
This weekend, they will play hosts to North West brass band Fanfara – made up of current or former-Salvation Army members – for two concerts.
The band of around 35 people will play on Saturday night from 7pm and again at 4pm on
Sunday at the Millfield base on Rutland Street.
Tickets are priced at £4 for adults while under 16s go free, and any extra money made from the event will go towards aiding the incredible work of the Salvation Army.
A good turn-out is expected and Paul Adams, bandmaster at Sunderland Millfield Salvation Army, insists: “It’s not really a money-making venture – it’s more just a case of Christians getting together and sharing fellowship and worship.
“Hopefully, as well, it’ll invite other people in and to come and be part of the Salvation Army experience.”
The Northern Division of the Salvation Army stretches from Whitby, to Anwick, Penrith and Whitehaven. In the local community, they provide food parcels and help anyone in need.
Stephen Naylor, a full-time Salvation Army officer, says: “If people have really hit rock-bottom financially, we try to provide food, clothing, electric and gas, whatever they need.”
The Salvation Army has, for many years, donated Christmas gifts to people of all ages. In 2012, almost 18,000 gifts were distributed, with the vast majority of those gifts going to children under the age of 12. In addition, over 500 food parcels were delivered during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
“The work with the Salvation Army is diverse,” says Major Naylor, who has been a Salvation Army officer for over 30 years. “We have what we call churches, or corps. We have places like Swan Lodge, which is a hostel, or a life centre as it’s now called, and that’s for people with nowhere else to live.
“Here in the UK we work very much with anti-trafficking. The Salvation Army head the anti-trafficking program for the country and the government.
“So when there’s a raid there’s often three or four Salvationists who go on that raid and they take the women or men to a safe place. We work alongside the police and other authorities as well. Obviously anti-trafficking happens all over the world but it’s a new venture for us in the UK and the Salvation Army.
“We also work with agencies in Sunderland regarding furniture. We don’t deal with furniture at the Salvation Army but we do have links with other organisations so we can then get furniture for a family depending on what they need.”
But, as Brian Thompson – member of the Millfield corps – says, they are predominately a church and they accept that it is a challenge to bring more people to the church in this ever-changing world as religion and worship continues to be severely scrutinised.
Major Naylor says: “The dynamics of the church are always changing. Our worships are traditional but there is also a contemporary side in the Salvation Army. It’s about keeping up with the times.
“We try to do something for all ages, which is sometimes not easy.”
Bandmaster Adams says: “Over the last five or six years we’ve experienced something that we’ve never really seen before here and that’s getting people of different nationalities coming to the church. People from Philippines, Malaysia, India, there’s a guy from Eritrea and there’s a lady from South Africa too.”
Mr Thompson adds: “We learn from [different nationalities] as they learn from us. We learn how they do it, as Christians, in their countries.
“We’re anxious to get relationships with the student community because we’re on the doorstep of so many students. Just so people know that, while they’re away from home, there’s a place to come.
“There’s a certain social element to what we do and if you’re feeling a bit down, that’s something we can deal with.
“There’s no pressure to wear uniform or be here all the time. It’s a casual ‘come and join us when you can’ sort of thing.”
The Millfield corps have a particularly active youth participation, with junior choir rehearsals on Tuesday evenings and junior band rehearsals on Wednesday evenings.
Mr Adams says: “We have a very strong programme for young people, a lot of enthusiastic workers and their enthusiasm kind of rubs off on other people.”
The Millfield corps hold morning and evenings worships on Sundays at 11am and 6pm respectively, while Sunday School begins at 12:15pm. They have a ‘Coffee & Chat’ session on Monday mornings and a Zumba Club later in the evening, as well as plenty of other events on every day during the week.
More details on Sunderland Millfield Salvation Army can be found by telephone 0191 567 3084, on their website http://www.sunderlandmillfield.com/ or by visiting their base on Rutland Street, Millfield, SR4 6HX. The Northern Division of the Salvation Army have their own website where you can find local churches, social centres and you can donate to the Salvation Army too.
Brass band Fanfara will be playing two concerts at Millfield, the first on 16th March and the second the next day. Details can be found on Facebook or from any of the contact details above.
Next month, they will be going to the Gala Theatre in Durham to celebrate their 123rd anniversary with a musical extravaganza. Early details can be found here and all the latest updates will come on Run of the Millfield.