Rapping on Heaven's Door

August 09, 1994

If cultural diversity and visionary thinking have been hallmarks of Howard County over the past few decades, logic dictates that those concepts would be reflected in most aspects of county life.

This would include religion and the different ways that different people choose to develop their spiritual lives. Early evidence was the founding of the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center more than 20 years ago.

Recently we have noted a number of religious trends in the county. And while it can't be said they are found "only in Howard County," it appears that if these trends could be found anywhere in Maryland, it would most likely be here.

A story last week by The Sun's Alisa Samuels illustrates the point. The article described the teen-aged Brewer brothers' efforts to mix rap music with the Scriptures. Can these two local teens use rap -- a musical form usually associated with more risque subject matter -- to make the gospel more accesible to young people? They believe they can, citing the growth of Christian rap music across the nation.

Another local example of an off-beat religious forum is the nondenominational "trucking ministry" established inside a large trailer on the parking lot of the Truckers Inn in Jessup.

Pastor James R. Brown meets with truckers inside the trailer, which has been converted into a chapel, or in a room he rents at the inn. For drivers who spend long stretches on the road, here's a welcome opportunity to find sustenance for the soul. The ministry grew out of a program started in 1990, operating out of a room at the Truckers Inn, by lay chaplain and former trucker Reginald Pelletier.

Then there's the Valley Brook Community Church in Columbia, a non-denominational Christian congregation consisting mainly of Yuppies alienated from mainstream religion. Valley Brook ministers with methods that hit home with the TV generation -- pop music, video, drama.

More traditional places of worship in Howard County have likewise made important contributions, not just in religious terms but also through their support of shelters, food banks and other service programs. Among its many blessings, Howard is fortunate to include such a lively and diverse network of spiritual communities.

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