Music heals souls, calms minds, and relaxes stressed bodies. When you combine music with the Word of God and add other arts, you birth a gift that holistically embraces with healing the wounds of war and military service. That gift is a new CD designed specifically for spiritual and mental healing soon available free from an ELCA congregation of concerned volunteers who want to help veterans, military members, and their families find total wellness. Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado formed a group called Operation One Nation Team in 2010 that has never stopped finding new ways to support military veterans, service personnel, and their families.
The CD titled, Keeper of All Stars, unites the skills, talents, and experience of Lutheran musicians for a “spiritual healing” album that directly addresses post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), suicide, and other related challenges for both service personnel and their families. Inspired by their faith in God’s love and a desire to do more than share stories, this voluntary team devised a way to combine the best of music, the Word, and graphics to go beyond entertainment to actually work with mind, heart, and emotions under siege.
The two-disc CD starts with disc one of music carefully arranged by Dr. Dan Grace, Ph.D. in Music from the University of Nebraska with over 53 years of experience in choral direction. Dr. Grace selected the best music performed by Lutheran colleges and universities across the country, including the National Lutheran Chorale and the exceptional choir from Bethany Lutheran Church at Cherry Hills Village.
Next, God’s Word was added in disc two titled Lord Guide Our Way with a specially written series of devotions by one who knows his own, Dr. (Army Chaplain, retired) David R. Brock. David is a founding member of Operation One Team. He is a gifted writer who won first-place for screenplay writing at the 2014 GI Film Festival held in Washington DC. Dave volunteered to craft 20 devotional pieces that have a direct connection to the hymns/songs on the album which he recorded at a local studio.
The CD packaging required appropriate art. So the Team asked the local artist (Arvada, CO) Helen Marie Hall to allow the use of her original painting titled, “Patriotic Ponies”, a formation of horses with the lead pony carrying the US flag, to be the CD cover. Hall’s art presents a dramatic picture of patriotism with an accompanying sense of spirituality provided by the album’s title. (Deleted Keeper of All Stars) The deep blue background in Helen’s art gives rise to a star-studded and lit-up sky that gives the ponies a sense of direction. Then, a featured song on the album entitled “Lord of Eternity” has within its verses the line: “Keeper of All Stars” to tie the art and theme together.
But more was needed. The Team found Mr. Bill Hare, a multiple Grammy Award winner from the Bay area of San Francisco to master the music into a total work. Mr. Hare was generous with his time and talents ultimately giving Operation One Nation a reduced rate, allowing that he had sung in church choirs all his life and had sung many of the hymns offered on the album. It was his way to contribute to the purpose and spirit of the effort.
Volunteers continued adding to the quality and power of the CD gift. New pastor at Bethany Lutheran, former Dean of the Chapel at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, Pastor Gary Sandberg, wrote and recorded a welcoming introduction to the album. Dr. Jack Lindsey of Bethany’s Health and Wellness team wrote the copy. Artwork for the internal panels and back cover came from selected photographs of the Bethany sanctuary and exterior church building, often viewed as a “beacon on a hill”. The photo arrangements came from team members Delia Stewart, Dr. Brock,Scott Miller and Dr. Grace. Production house services came from Mr. Sydney Alston of DiscMakers in Los Angeles offering generous discounts to make the CDs cost-effective for free distribution.
Costing thousands of dollars to make, there is no charge for the CDs to users except requested shipping costs. To help make the CDs truly gifts, a major fundraising barbecue called “Holy Smokes” raised nearly $6,000 with an added silent auction, BBQ sauce competition, and more. Again, several volunteers joined forces to make this happen, fired by the Holy Spirit, with a focused mission of bringing God’s love and healing to hurting neighbors from the Veteran and Servicemember community.
Operation One Nation came into being as a response to the ELCA Memorial of 2007 and the Rocky Mountain Synod’s response to that Memorial by virtue of a Resolution of 2011. The recent unanimously approved ELCA Assembly Resolution in support of Veterans (2016) adds to this resolve. Sister congregations in the area joined the effort from Bethel Lutheran of Aurora, CO, Christ Lutheran of Highland Ranch, CO and Augustana Lutheran of Denver. Their mission for Christ with this ministry continues with dedication and energy. They invite all ELCA congregations to join them with building their own Operation One Teams in support of the ELCA’s memorials of the mission. Interested people may contact Warren Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org . For copies of the new CD by people at-large send requests to OON@bethany-denver.org.
At the end of each meeting of Operation One Nation Team, they pray, “Finally, we ask the Holy Spirit continue to lead us and that we will have the faith and wisdom to follow! Amen. They are following.