Billboard brings religion to motorists Church poses questions on Ritchie Highway sign

November 26, 1995|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church's 400-member congregation can raise the roof during Sunday worship, but the church's greatest voice may well be its large white billboard that asks passing motorists such questions as, "MY GOD: Why?"

The 30-foot-high billboard at 114 Ritchie Highway is visible from both sides of the road and is illuminated at night.

"Suburbia tends to hide from God and what he has to say," said Glenn Parkinson, the church's senior pastor. "This brings the questions out, and if it helps to interject God into their lives, I think that it'll be helpful."

Motorists traveling south on Ritchie Highway have seen inquiries such as, "MY GOD: Does Your Life Have Meaning?" and "MY GOD: Can I Go On?"

Drivers heading north have seen statements saying, "JESUS CHRIST: I Am The Life" and "JESUS CHRIST: Omega."

The notices seen from the northbound lanes offer encouragement for Christians, while the notices for southbound drivers serve as calls to nonbelievers, Mr. Parkinson said.

"It is designed to reflect the questions that people have but don't have the courage to ask," he said. "The idea is to give them hope that there are answers."

Severna Park Evangelical bought the land on which the billboard sits last year and paid about $3,000 to repair it. .

A phone number on the sign is for an answering machine whose message encourages callers to read the Bible and leave a name and address for a free pamphlet titled, "My God."

Several people have called and asked for the pamphlets, said Mr. Parkinson.

The questions, he said, come from the Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon as a series of questions searching for the meaning of life. The book, written from a secular point of view, eventually recommends finding comfort in God and his word, he said.

Ronald Adkins, 61, of Arnold said the sign "makes you think about things, and I think we need that in this country."

"I think it's good," said Mr. Adkins, who was buying clothes Friday for his son at the Repp Big, Tall, & Athletic store in Magothy Gateway Plaza.

Mike Wells, 46, who drives past the billboard every day on his commute, said the sign is "a little bizarre."

"I think the billboard is too big, but then [that's] freedom of speech," he said.

Mr. Parkinson said he hopes the billboard will make an impact.

"If the southbound side makes people feel uncomfortable, that's OK because they obviously don't have the answers to those questions," he said. "They can make the sign go away, but not the questions."

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