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We’re excited to announce the completion of our newest full-length album, Drawn to the Cross, featuring ten arrangements of familiar and favorite hymns and two original songs.  Tracks include:

Drawn to the Cross
Chief of Sinners Though I Be
Jesus, Priceless Treasure
Hearts of Stone (Branches Band original)
Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice
Oh, That I Had a Thousand Voices
Fill Me Up (Branches Band original, theme song for the 2012 WELS International Youth Rally)
Jesus I My Cross Have Taken
Were You There?
Oh, Bless the Lord, My Soul
Built on the Rock
Now the Day Is Over

Visit www.branchesband.com for ordering information.  Release is scheduled for April 2012.

Be sure to check out the Branches Band calendar as well.  Over the next five months we’ll be offering concerts, assisting with worship, and participating in conventions in the states of WI, TX, NM, AZ, HI, CA, NV, UT, WY, NE, OH, PA, MD, DE, ME, VA, NC, TN, AK, with many more to be scheduled.  Our God is truly gracious for providing us so many opportunities to share his truth in song in so many places in the United States and Canada.   Your continued prayers and support are most appreciated!

Thanksgiving

Here we are a few days past Thanksgiving 2011.  And here we are four months since our last blog post!  The lapse in time is testament to all that Branches Band has to be thankful for, and it is fitting to make mention of it close to (if not exactly on) this Thanksgiving.

In September we had the opportunity to record another album, Behold.  It is a Christmas EP that includes seven new Advent/Christmas arrangements and two re-releases from our full length A Branch Is Growing Christmas album, with the addition of string instruments.  In October we had a busy month touring in the US Southwest, the release of Behold, and the completion of several new transcriptions.  In the current month of November we’ve been busy serving congregations all over WI and preparing for more extended travel and ministry for the months of December and January and beyond.  Lord-willing, we’ll be heading through IN, TN, NC, SC, GA, and AL in the weeks preceding Christmas, and then to FL for most of January and even into February.  And we’re already looking ahead to spending Holy Week in TX and serving in the Eastern part of the US in June, including the LWMS Rally in NC and the WELS International Youth Rally in TN.  We invite you to keep an eye our ever-evolving schedule, and hope to serve you sometime in the near future!

To be sure, we’ve been busy and will continue to be busy.  So it is truly a blessing that the national Thanksgiving holiday gives us a chance to pause – to be reminded of, and given the same opportunity as, the Samaritan cleansed from his leprosy – and to come to the feet of our Savior, thanking him for everything listed above.  And more importantly, to thank Jesus for giving us the greatest gift he possibly could give: his perfect self to redeem us from what our sins deserve.  With Thanksgiving barely in the rearview mirror and the Advent walk to Bethlehem now immediately ahead of us, we look forward to stepping up to the manger and seeing God’s Word made flesh, God’s promise for redemption fulfilled.  Branches Band looks forward to continued service, bringing the message of salvation and thankfulness in the coming weeks amongst those we are privileged to serve.

After this summer’s travels we have officially visited 40 states (plus Canada!). God has blessed us over the past 3 years with miles and miles of safe travel to wonderful congregation across the country. Take a look at all of the places we have visited! Thank you to all of the congregations and organizations that have made this possible! (We hope we got everyone, but please let us know if there is a church we missed! We are humbled by such a great list of churches we have visited!)

ALABAMA

Lamb of God, Madison

Our Savior, Birmingham

Saving Grace, Mobile

ALASKA

Syndolous, Fairbanks*

Faith, Anchorage*

Grace, Kenai

Peace, Eagle River

King of Kings, Wasilla

ARIZONA

Arizona Lutheran Academy, Phoenix

Emmanuel, Tempe*

Grace, Glendale

Grace, Tucson

Lamb of God, Phoenix*

Our Savior, Lake Havasu City

ARKANSAS

Trinity, Mountain Home

CALIFORNIA

Apostles, San Jose

Beautiful Saviour, Carlsbad*

Christ, Lodi

Christ the Vine, Temecula

Living Hope, Wildomar

Mount Calvary, Redding

Reformation, San Diego*

Risen Savior, Chula Vista*

St. Mark’s, Citrus Heights

St. Paul’s First, North Hollywood

St. Peter, Modesto*

St. Stephens, Fallbrook

COLORADO

Fount of Life, Colorado Springs

Abiding Word, Highlands Ranch

CONNECTICUT

Messiah, South Windsor

FLORIDA

Abiding Love, Cape Coral

Bay Pines, Seminole

Faith, Tallahassee

Good Shepherd, Jacksonville*

Hope, West Palm Beach

Northdale, Tampa

Risen Savior, Orlando

St. Paul’s, Beverly Hills

GEORGIA

Beautiful Savior, Marietta*

Risen Savior, Pooler

IDAHO

Cross of Christ, Boise

Messiah, Nampa

ILLINOIS

Amazing Love, Frankfort*

Crossroads, Chicago*

Faith, Antioch

Heritage, Lindenhurst*

Immanuel, Waukegan

New Life, Lake Zurich

St. Matthew, Niles*

St. Paul’s, Moline

INDIANA

Divine Savior, Indianapolis

Holy Scripture, Fort Wayne

IOWA

2009 WELS International Youth Rally, Ames (Iowa State University)

KANSAS

Mount Olive, Overland Park

KENTUCKY

Faith, Radcliff

LOUISIANA

Cross of Glory, Baton Rouge

Crown of Life, New Orleans*

Trinity, Abita Springs

MICHIGAN

Holy Trinity, Wyoming

St. Paul’s, Livonia

MINNESOTA

Ascension, Rochester

Bethlehem, Lakeville

Minnesota Valley LHS, New Ulm

St. Croix LHS, West St Paul

St. John, St. Paul

St. Mark’s, Mankato

St. Paul’s, Jordan*

St. Paul’s, New Ulm

St. Paul’s, North Mankato

St. Peter, St. Peter*

West LHS, Plymouth

MISSOURI

Apostles, Dardenne Prairie

Martin Luther, St Louis

MONTANA

Apostles, Billings

Mountain View, Great Falls

Saint Paul’s, Livingston

Salem, Circle

NEBRASKA

Good Shepherd, Omaha

St. Mark, Lincoln

NEVADA

Beautiful Savior, Las Vegas

NEW HAMPSHIRE

St. Paul’s, Amherst

NEW JERSEY

Immanuel, Long Valley*

NEW MEXICO

Christ the Rock, Farmington

Peace, Rio Rancho

Shepherd, Albuquerque*

NEW YORK

King of Kings, Clifton Park*

Our Savior, Springville*

NORTH CAROLINA

Star of Bethlehem, Winston-Salem

Grace, Charlotte

NORTH DAKOTA

Redeemer, Mandan

OHIO

Beautiful Savior, Cincinnati

Our Savior, Strongsville

St. Paul’s, Columbus

OKLAHOMA

Gethsemane, Oklahoma City*

Holy Cross, Oklahoma City

OREGON

Amazing Grace, Milwaukie

Beautiful Savior, Hilsboro

Grace, Portland

Immanuel, Salem

PENNSYLVANIA

Peace, King of Prussia

SOUTH DAKOTA

Good Shepherd, Souix Falls

Hope, Spearfish

TENNESSEE

Christ Our Savior, Columbia

TEXAS

Atonement, Plano

Calvary, Dallas*

Christ the Lord, Houston

Holy Word, Austin

Immanuel, Fort Worth

Our Savior, Arlington

Our Savior, San Antonio

Trinity, El Paso*

UTAH

Prince of Peace, Salt Lake City

VERMONT

Christ the Redeemer, Barre

VIRGINIA

Bethlehem, Manassas

Grace, Falls Church*

Trinity, Woodbridge

WASHINGTON

Beautiful Savior, Everett

Camp 4 Star, Olympia

Christ the King, Bremerton

Faith, Tacoma

Grace, Yakima

Holy Trinity, Des Moines

King of Kings, Kennewick

Light of Life, Covington

Messiah, Olympia

Peace, Vancouver

WISCONSIN

Bethel, Menasha*

Bethlehem, Menomonee Falls (also Germantown)

Camp Phillip, Wautoma

Christ, Pewaukee*

Christian Life Resources, Richfield

Christian Women Today Retreat, Oconomowoc

David’s Star, Jackson*

Epiphany, Racine*

The Escape (Youth Center – St. Paul’s), Fort Atkinson

First, Lake Geneva

Fairview, Milwaukee

Garden Homes, Milwaukee*

Good Shepherd, West Bend*

Immanuel, Greenville*

Immanuel, Kewaunee

Jordan, West Allis

Mount Calvary, La Crosse

Peace, Hartford*

Pilgrim, Menomonee Falls

Pine Ridge Campground, Waldo

Point of Grace (UWM Campus Ministry), Milwaukee*

Resurrection, Milwaukee*

Risen Savior, Milwaukee

St. Andrew’s, Middleton

St. Andrew’s, Waunakee

St. John’s, Wauwatosa

St. John’s, Newburg

St. John, Newville*

St. Lucas, Milwaukee

St. Matthew (84th & Melvina), Milwaukee*

St. Marcus, Milwaukee*

St. Paul, Bloomer

St. Paul, Dale

St. Paul’s, East Troy

St. Paul’s, Muskego

St. Paul’s, North Fond du Lac*

St. Paul, Slinger

Trinity, Waukesha*

WELS Administration Building, Milwaukee

Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee*

Zion, Hartland

CANADA (don’t worry, we know this isn’t a state, but we didn’t want to leave you out!)

Mountain View, Calgary, AB*

Mighty Fortress, Red Deer, AB

St. Peter, Saint Albert, AB

God has blessed us with over five weeks of safe travel, great congregations/hosts, and wonderful opportunities to strengthen and encourage people through His Word in song.  We’ve arrived in MN and this week turn our focus to the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music and the Arts.  Although we are not participating as a band in any capacity, we are excited to have a booth where we hope to make new connections and plan new ministry opportunities and cooperations in this synod that has more than 1250 congregations.  We are also blessed to have opportunity to grow as individuals and as a group through our attendance at a number of workshops and worship services.  And as always, we will be blessed to grow in grace and purpose as this gathering of the body of Christ holds God’s precious Word at the center of every activity this conference offers.  If you are attending the conference, we look forward to meeting you and growing with you!

May your worship be motivated by God’s love for you in Jesus and his promise that when you come to him in confession, prayer and praise; he will forgive, listen, and embrace you as his child.  “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'” Psalm 122:1

Life on the Road

As you may have noticed looking at our schedule, we are busy touring this summer and having a great time! Part of the way our ministry is supported is by the kindness and generosity of congregation members opening their homes to us for one (or more) night(s) while we’re touring through their town. What a blessing they are to us and our ministry!

 

Staying with host families allows us the opportunity to get to know the congregation a little bit better. It is such a blessing for us to be able to meet people from the area that we are serving and see how God works in their lives. On all of our tours we have met so many wonderful people who are using their gifts in a great variety of ways to serve their Lord and Savior. What an encouragement it is for us to see the Lord’s work in all corners of the United States (and beyond!). It reminds us of Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We see this carried out in Christians across the country every day we are on tour.

 

On this tour (and past tours) we are commonly asked, “Do you ever get tired of staying with a different host family every night?” The answer is most certainly not! God very richly blesses us through the people we meet while we are on tour, and are so very thankful for this opportunity! We would like to extend a most sincere ‘thank you’ to all of you who open your homes to host us, or any of the countless other groups that travel to share the Word of God.

 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘ Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… Whatever you did for one of the least of these… you did for me.”

 

 

Wow!  It’s been more than four weeks since our last post.  The glory of Jesus’ resurrection fills our hearts with joy as we anticipate the day he returns to gather his children into his Kingdom forever.  Until then, despite whatever end of the world predictions come and go, we scatter the seed of his Word wherever his grace and providence takes us.

For the past few weeks Branches Band has been scattering e-mails, phone calls, promotional materials, service samples and more amongst the more than 40 congregations in some 16 states (and the number continues to grow) we will be serving in the next three months.  Soon it will be time to hit the road, gathering with WELS members throughout the United States – and hopefully visitors as well – around God’s Word in song.  The time God has given us to scatter and gather is truly a blessing from his gracious hand!

In addition to tour planning we are busy preparing to share our ministry with the large group that will gather at the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music and Arts held in St. Peter, MN, July 19-22.  We hope to find more ways and places that we can use what God is cultivating in Branches Band to assist even more congregations in their worship and ministry.

And finally, be sure to watch the web site for our ever-evolving schedule and the release of new sheet music.  We’ve just completed the piano/vocal/guitar sheets for “What Wondrous Love is This” from the Light Eternal album.  God-willing, more sheets will be on the way soon.

Always in Him,
Branches Band

See, Touch, Taste

As we make our way through Lent and approach Holy Week, we hear of our Savior’s ministry, suffering, death, and glorious resurrection on Easter.  The account of these real events in history include a number of places familiar by name: Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Upper Room, the Mount of Olives, Calvary, the tomb where Jesus was laid, the road to Emmaus, and more.

Some people seek to visit these locations, to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus.”  Physically being in the same places that Jesus walked, preached, and slept – the very places where he lived, died, and rose again – takes these familiar locations from the abstract to the real.  While many of the exact locations are not known, just being near them, being able to touch the stones and see the views, brings the salvation history we know and believe into a special personal and tactile light.

Others may travel to the Holy Land hoping to overcome their spiritual doubts.  But in the end the Holy Land is just another location on the map, another destination spot in a world full of destination spots.  In and of themselves, there is nothing magical about the roads Jesus walked, nothing other-worldly about a mountainside he preached from.  They are just the places in the world He created that he chose to carry out his mission to save the world through his perfect life, innocent death, and triumphant resurrection.

If you’re looking for a “real” experience with your Savior, something you can gaze upon and hold in your hands, Jesus has given us a far better personal and tactile experience, freely and easily obtained.   And unlike a visit to a faraway land, it carries the added blessings of growth in faith and forgiveness of sins.  In Holy Communion, we receive Jesus’ precious body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine, the same body that walked, sat, and talked in the Middle East some 2000 years ago and the same blood that spilled on Calvary’s ground and washes you and me clean from sin.  As you hear again the story of salvation this Holy Week, revel in this special gift Jesus gave his people to physically see, touch, and taste right now the God who saves!