Youth rally kicks off New Year

Published 9:01 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

Walking up County Street, one could hear the faint beats of a drum.

Reaching the front porch of New Mount Joy church, the percussion was so intense it could be felt inside one’s chest.

Turns out, a group of young guys was busy practicing on two sets of drums right in front of the church’s doors.

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While the boys were still banging on the drums, a group of girls walked by carrying flags of various colors. They walked around to the side of the church to practice a flag routine they had been working on all afternoon.

Sidestepping the drummers, and entering the church, there were all sorts of new sounds and practices to hear and see.

In one corner, a small boom box blared a gospel tune, while three dancers worked through the choreography that went along with it.

In the front, another cluster of teenagers stood in a circle, clapping and stomping to figure out the right beat for a step routine.

Then, there were other performers sitting on the sidelines – just watching and taking it all in.

It was noisy, energetic, loud and fun.

And it was exactly what church members wanted.

It was the New Year’s Kickoff Youth Rally, hosted by New Mount Joy.

“It’s just trying to give youth something to do to get their minds focused on the church,” said Denise Sherrod, a youth advisor at New Mount Joy. “We just tried to find different things to do to enhance their church growth.”

Starting in the fall of last year, members at New Mount Joy wanted to put on an event that could get the community’s children excited about the church.

They began thinking of different ministries in which young people could use their talents and passions to worship God.

From praise dancing and miming to drumming and cheerleading, the church members sought ways to make church life fun for younger members.

“It brings our youth together,” said Shante Wiggins, one of the rally’s organizers. “It shows young people that they can be active in the church, and it can be fun. It’s not boring.”

Pulling together help from other community churches — New Gospel Temple; Faith, Hope and Love Ministries; and Solomon’s Temple — the church put on a two-day rally, complete with workshops teaching all of the different ministries and then a performance Saturday night showcasing all they had learned in the past two days.

It gives people in the community, like Tyrell Lowther, an opportunity to use their interests and learn more about them.

“It’s been fun,” said Lowther, a member of Faith, Hope and Love Ministries. “I like to do miming and singing in the choir, and I’ll get to do that today.”

Lowther said that this type of rally should be used in churches across the city, because it is so helpful to Suffolk’s youth.

“This is something positive,” he said. “For them to have it and have a big fellowship, it’s wonderful. Every church organization should do this. The streets are calling for the kids, but they’re in here. That’s wonderful.”