WESTMINSTER — Enthusiasm and camaraderie are the weapons an area youth group is using to combat peer pressure and low self-esteem among youngsters.
The group, called Impact Youth Ministry, is a ministry of the Westminster Church of God, and welcomes youths ages 12 to 25.
The enthusiasm is evident, as members of the group wear black T-shirts emblazoned with their logo in vibrant orange lettering.
Similarly, book covers the group made have sold briskly, with only 25 remaining from the original order of 2,000.
But the heart of Impact is its worship and activities, members say. The group meets Tuesday evenings, and the sessions include music and worship.
At a recent meeting, group leader Nathan Boehm, speaking against a musical backdropof drums and synthesizer, led the members in song and worship.
"We need help," he said. "Jesus Christ helps us."
During the session, Boehm gave other youths an opportunity to share thoughts and concerns with the group. Before the closing prayer, he said, "You've got someone to care for you. We depend on each other."
Christina Foster,17, said she likes belonging to a group where teens share the same beliefs.
"It's our youth group and our time of worship," said Foster, a Westminster High senior and daughter of the church pastor, the Rev. Dennis Foster, and Janice Foster. "I like the singing, Nathan's preaching and the fellowship."
Mike Livingston, 17, also a Westminster High senior and a Hampstead resident, plays synthesizer.
"Thisis a positive influence and chance to worship Christ with other kids," he said.
Boehm organized Impact last September, four months after he became the church's youth minister. He is a native of Indiana and graduate of Northwest Bible College in Minot, N.D..
"My heart is with young people," said Boehm, who lives near the church with his wife, Dawn, and their children, Melody, 6, Ryan, 4, and Sarah, 16 months. He's also a member of the county's Drug and Alcohol Awareness Committee.
Among Impact's activities are guest speakers, concerts, plays, camping trips, athletics and community service projects.
Boehm escorted 27 youths to the Premier '91 Winter Retreat in Lancaster,Pa. Some 1,800 teen-agers from eight states gathered for concerts, speakers and other events.
Impact's official newsletter, Rad Hot News, keeps youths informed of upcoming events.
Other groups have formed from Impact. The Life Club is aimed at middle school youth and offers games and speakers.
The club divides into three teams that compete in games each Saturday evening at the Longwell Municipal Center gym. Prizes are awarded to the team with most points.
Impact members up to age 26 are eligible to participate in short world-mission trips through STEP, sponsored by the Church of God International Department of Youth and Christian Education. Each summer, a youth team spends a weekend helping a small church with remodeling.
Another group is Tree Climbers, which meets Wednesday nights. The group is for boys in the first and second grades and their fathers or another adultmale.
Boehm and Foster encourage area youngsters to join Impact on Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. Westminster Church of God is located at 640 Lucabaugh Mill Road.
For more information, call 876-9192 or 848-9667.