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YOUNGSTOWN Church to feature Christian rappers

Published: Sat, August 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

A national Christian rap group will bring its positive message to Rising Star's back-to-school youth concert.



YOUNGSTOWN -- Demaine Kitchen thinks young people in Youngstown need a lesson in dependence.

Dependence on God, that is.

"In-Dependence Day" at Rising Star Baptist Church will not involve any fireworks or barbecue. The event next Saturday is a citywide back-to-school concert, which will feature national Christian recording rap group Cross Movement. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

"Young people are trying to handle life's problems on their own," said Kitchen, Rising Star's youth minister. "This concert is to help them become dependent on God -- to trust in God."

Kitchen said the church hopes to send kids back to school with love, discipline and God-like qualities.

"We want to make the schools and the community better places," he added.

This is different

The youth minister explained why this concert is different from others in the Valley. "It's the fact that they're national recording artists," said Kitchen about Cross Movement. "They're from the streets of Philadelphia, and have experienced what the youth have experienced in Youngstown. The kids can feel what they talk about."

The Philadelphia-based rap group formed in 1997 and has since recorded four CDs, the latest called "Human Emergency." Its biblically based lyrics and its sound -- which some describe as similar to secular rappers Wu-tang Clan and Public Enemy -- earned two Dove Award nominations in 2000.

The group has said that through its music and ministry it wants to "spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to those exposed to hip-hop culture, and help disciple those who believe."

Strong message

Although some criticize Christian rap, Kitchen says it can be a positive thing -- if its message is strong. "It's the best thing to happen for our young people since gospel music," he said. "Music is their language."

He added that some reject it out of fear of breaking tradition. "Mahalia Jackson's gospel music may have worked for our parents, but it's not going to work for this generation."

In response to the critics, Kitchen said the Christian rap form is justified in the Bible. "In 1 Corinthians 9, verse 22, it says, 'I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some,'" he said. "In other words, the gospel message can take many forms."



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