Serving wherever the spirit sends them

March 26, 2000|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Staff

Amid the circus that set up along the perimeter of the four-day-long Joseph Palczynski hostage scene in Dundalk last week, there was one small island of calm.

Heads bowed and hands clasped, 15 or so members of the New Life Sanctuary Church of Bel Air stood together and prayed -- and became instant media curiosities. Their vigil a week ago flashed across television screens and newspaper pages, including The Sun's, which ran their photo Monday.

Speculation included murmurs that the group might be a sort of spiritual S.W.A.T. team, seeking out souls-in-turmoil distress signals and responding with a Bible-clutching prayer squad. The truth isn't too far from the guess.

"We're a deliverance ministry," explains Blane Kubin, 42, pastor and co-founder of the year-old nondenominational church on Belair Road. "We go out in the streets and talk to people and try to minister and counsel the homeless or drug addicts, [but] this was the first time for a specific situation like this."

The congregation's weekly 11 a.m. Sunday service includes a forum for members to stand and talk about their faith. The more people spoke last Sunday, the more they felt "a burden in [their] hearts for the families and the people who were involved with the tragedy," Kubin says. So, "led by the Lord," Kubin says, they piled into the church's van and drove the 20-plus miles to Dundalk to offer their support and prayers.

"We've been very successful in some things we've done through the power of prayer," says Kubin, who explains that his fundamentalist church's mission is "casting devils out of people." In the case of the hostage standoff, an attempt at spiritual rescue was warranted, he says, because "you're not dealing with the man, but the spirit that drives the man, and [Palczynski] was driven by the devil."

Kubin says he would have preferred that in Palczynski's case, "justice was served in the courts, rather than with a bullet." But he believes his group did have some effect at the scene, even if it was just as a reassuring presence to those on the street.

The prayer group definitely had an effect on the news media, which has been contacting the group steadily over the past week. Despite such attention, don't look for New Life members to turn up regularly at developing tragedies. Kubin says that they'll continue to go only where the spirit moves them.

Pub Date: 03/26/00

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