Christian Revival Center Sings Its Praises

December 05, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The congregation of the Christian Revival Center eschews quiet worship. With drums, trumpets, foot-stomping, singing and clapping, members make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

"If you won $1 million, you would be exuberant in your praise," said the Rev. Charles R. Curry, pastor of the Finksburg church. "We owe the Lord praise and can make noise to emphasize worship."

The church, on Lawndale Road near Route 91, is affiliated with the United Pentecostal International denomination.

The Pentecostal movement advocates belief in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"The Bible says a man must be born again of water and the spirit," Mr. Curry said. "We do the water and God furnishes the spirit."

The denomination, which has its roots in the American South, is not as strong in this area of the United States, he said, but "we are trying to change that."

The 44-year-old pastor often opens services with a prayer "that God gives us a good spirit" and takes his themes from "something lively."

"We show people a good time here and hope God will make believers out of them," he said.

At the front of the church, which seats about 250 people, worshipers see a full set of drums, a keyboard and a bass guitar.

"We use music that couldn't be done with a pipe organ," said Mr. Curry, who frequently inserts quotations from Scripture into his conversations.

Since the congregation purchased the church building in July, members have undertaken a complete renovation of it, from rewiring to new walls and carpet.

"I didn't want any junk," said Mr. Curry. "First impressions are important, and I wanted our center to look good."

The center aisle leads to a mural that shows the hands of God reaching down from the heavens. There is no altar table.

"Our altar is wherever you get in touch with God," he said.

Mr. Curry does have "an altar call" when anyone can come forward and pray for specific intentions.

The center's opening is the culmination of the congregation's long search for a home.

"We met in living rooms and basements, or rented other churches," said Mr. Curry. "We were real nomads."

Several evangelists who preached to the congregation told members that they saw a church in the future, Mr. Curry said. The "future" took six years to happen.

"God's calendar doesn't match ours and he doesn't wear a watch," said Mr. Curry.

Last December, the owner of Miracle Valley Church offered to rent his building to the congregation's members. Six months later, he offered to sell it to them.

For the three dedication ceremonies this weekend, the pastor promises "power-packed" services.

"I refuse to have dead services," he said.

"We praise him on drums, high-sounding cymbals and with our shouts. In general, society is not looking for simple sermons and catechism lessons."

Mr. Curry said he sees the center as "part of the rebirth of spirituality" that is imbuing the country. The congregation numbers about 150. Most members come from Carroll and Baltimore counties.

"Many come from afar," said Mr. Curry. "Once they get here, they don't need a boring, dry sermon. They need a place to touch God and let God touch them."

Mr. Curry said he would like to conduct ecumenical revival services for all denominations at the center.

"Religion is basically man-made, and we draw the lines," he said.

"I don't want to box God in. We are not here to destroy other churches, but to renew people's spirit."

All people are welcome at the center, he said. He hopes they will come, catch the spirit and stay.

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