Prayer rally targets youths 400 faithful attend event that encouraged alternatives to drugs

August 30, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Some 400 people brought their lawn chairs to the Westminster City Playground last night, and before a stage flanked with the American and state flags, they sang, clapped and danced to blaring music.

For most of the evening, though, they prayed.

The summer concert was a Rally for the Faithful, a night of prayer for the children of Carroll County.

"Prayer is the most awesome weapon in our arsenal," said Daren Bowen, youth director for the nondenominational New Hope Fellowship church.

So they prayed for the children they have lost -- more than a dozen in the last year to drugs, accidents, illness and crime. And they prayed for the children who are still here.

"We are serving notice on the devil that we are taking back our children," said Pastor Dave Smith of the Christian Revival Center in Finksburg. "We will not let the devil drug-infest our community."

Many strangers joined hands and asked for blessings on the young people attending the rally and those starting the school year.

"Teens, this night is for you; you, the future of this county," said Roger Record, a Christian rock musician. "We are saying no to the devil. He may have ruled last year, but not this year."

About 20 churches and ministries participated in the event, sponsored by the Carroll County Heritage Foundation. Several booths offered information on youth programs, which volunteers encouraged children to join.

"Maybe we can help some young person who is lost and in need of fellowship," said Mary Ann Langan of Life Teen at St. John Roman Catholic Church, which meets for weekly worship. It offers serious talks and banter, trips and community projects.

"We mix fun things with religion," said Langan's 16-year-old daughter, Tiffany.

Amanda Stonesifer, 14, passed out heart-shaped lollipops and the address of her Taneytown church.

"Church is the answer, and nothing else is," said Amanda of Messiah United Methodist Church.

Ben Hykes, 17, wearing a tall purple hat and a T-shirt that read "Will Work for Jesus," stood out in the crowd: "I am hoping through this rally a lot of people come to Christ."

The Rev. Norm Smith, pastor of New Hope Fellowship, thanked the audience for "carving out time to pray." He spoke of "the barrenness of busy-ness" and urged the diverse group to make time to worship and work together.

"This rally unifies churches and raises awareness of the challenges young people face," said Smith. "We are showing them this county wants to help give them the right direction and give them a place to come to."

Sharon Leonard, a member of Smith's congregation, said the rally showed her a unity of purpose.

"With all the tragedy in this community, we are seeing everybody one tonight, all denominations coming together," Leonard said. "It really touches us all."

Pub Date: 8/30/98

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