Youth groups, churches to hold anti-drug rally Carroll County event to feature Christian music, 'praise and prayer'

August 24, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

While other groups create anti-drug programs to combat a rising tide of substance abuse, Carroll County Heritage Foundation is responding with a prayer-filled rally.

A Rally for the Faithful on Saturday in Westminster City Park can give youths direction and a sense of belonging, said organizers. While William J. McKenna, executive director of the Westminster-based foundation, lauds education and drug awareness programs, he wonders "where God fits into all this?"

"Our primary purpose is to pray for young people of Carroll County as they begin the school year," McKenna said. "We want to bring all of Carroll County together for a night of prayer and praise. We will ask God to use his power in healing our young people."

McKenna has invited area churches, youth ministries and outreach organizations to join the rally. Roger Record and the Groove, the lead act, will present an anti-drug message with drama and alternative-funk Christian music.

"We have the lights, smoke and stage-diving, all the stuff that freaks kids out," said Record, who is based in Laurel. "It looks like MTV, but it has a far different message."

The message woven into dramatic skits and songs is "give Jesus a chance and see what happens," he said. Record, who has performed across the United States, Canada and Central America, finds teen-agers' problems are similar no matter where he travels.

"The fabric of our communities has broken down and there is a lot of pain for kids out there," he said.

McKenna, retired after 36 years of teaching and coaching, has often heard those same messages. He formed the foundation with Ronald Morley, a former student, in April to "promote, preserve and extend the heritage of Carroll County to our children."

Carroll's heritage dates back two centuries to a God-centered society, with emphasis on family and country, McKenna said.

"We need to get back to those values and pass them on to our children so they can pass them on to their children," he said. "Years ago, home and church could form a good foundation for young people. Many children I taught came from broken homes with no real strong loyalty and no strong relationships."

A few ministers will preach, Christian music groups will perform and many organizations have offered to set up displays detailing services offered.

"We want to show a unity of commitment and that young people are important enough to us to set ourselves aside," said Wade Hickman, pastor of Calvary Christian Fellowship.

"It is so important that young people see what we do is more than curse the darkness," Hickman said. "This is the time to light candles and tip the scales in our favor. We have seen what happens when we don't talk about drugs."

Kurt Udseth, director of Youth for Christ, hopes the rally will offer practical solutions to problems faced by youths. It also might mobilize the community and lead to more youth-centered activities.

"Real change comes when we meet each other one on one," Udseth said. "This rally will give our students a chance to see what church means."

The rally will bring different organizations and denominations together "to offer any kid the chance to hear positive things they may not be hearing at home," said Joe Belinko, area director of Young Life, which has 250 members throughout the county.

"Kids today are faced with many influences," Belinko said. "Many are just looking for direction. They hear all their lives about not using drugs. We have to give them a reason to say no, to choose the right path and then, we must develop a support system for them."

No one expects one event to erase the problems with substance abuse, but, Hickman said, "it will certainly be a great start."

The rally begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Westminster City Park, near Longwell Avenue. In the event of rain, the event will move to Westminster Armory on Longwell Avenue. Information: 410-876- 8714.

Pub Date: 8/24/98

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