Rally to call for prayers to help Carroll students

Program is a response to violence nationwide

August 22, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

As the 1999 school year begins, an organization is calling for prayer to protect the county's 27,500 students.

On Saturday, two days before the area's 38 schools open, the Carroll County Heritage Foundation will hold A Rally for the Faithful, which drew nearly 1,000 people last year, in Westminster city playground.

"When you look at all the incidents this year, you have to realize prayer is the answer," said William J. McKenna, executive director of the Westminster-based foundation.

"We are gathering to ask for God's protective covering on students. We want prayer coverage all year."

To draw students to the rally, McKenna enlisted a Christian radio station, music groups and the founder of The Lord is My Strength Ministry.

`Something decent'

Glenn Murphy Jr., who holds numerous weight-lifting records and believes "faith cometh by hearing," will demonstrate his weight-lifting skills and give a talk.

"Kids today are unchurched and all out of hand because they have freedom from religion, not freedom of religion," Murphy said. "I see mom and dad drop the kids off at church and then leave. This rally is something decent for families to do together."

McKenna, retired after 30 years of teaching in county schools, said Carroll County is no different from Jonesboro, Ark., or Littleton, Colo., when it comes to the breakdown of families.

"Parents are not listening to their children today," he said. "They don't understand what is going on in their children's lives. Whatever we can do to bring families together, we will do. We are all the family of God."

Danny O'Brien, guest speaker for the rally and a youth counselor, said every community is at risk for school violence.

"We have not served kids well," said O'Brien.

"Less than 23 percent of kids nationwide [are] involved in church, and we all know families are a lot different today than they were in the days of Wally and Beaver Cleaver.

"Church and family helps kids keep their value system and faith aligned."

McKenna looks to the positives.

"There is a real spirit of revival, and it begins with young people," he said.

A range of support

The foundation, which is "dedicated to promoting, preserving and extending the heritage of Carroll County" for children, has drawn an ecumenical group of pastors, churches and youth leaders.

Other entertainment

In addition to Murphy, a professional football player, an interracial children's choir and Christian cowboys and motorcyclists will entertain and mingle with the crowd.

"Our biggest thing is to bring all Carroll County together in a night of prayer that will carry on the whole school year," McKenna said. "There is power in numbers. We want kids to see their parents praying for them.

"We want kids to speak to kids about how prayer changed their lives."

The rally can help young people set a positive direction and can be "a catalyst to involve them in other faith-filled activities," O'Brien said.

The rally will begin at 6 p.m. in Westminster city playground. Information: 410-876-8714.

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