By LINDA M. LINONIS
East Palestine Youth Group provides a faith-based experience outside of church walls.
Faith Jam, planned today at East Palestine City Park, is another avenue of reaching out.
Todd Rutledge, a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, organized the youth group about two years ago. “We draw from churches in the area,” he said, adding other participants “don’t have a home church but want to be involved.”
Rutledge said the youth group, which meets at the Coffee Stop, gives them the chance to “experience a faith group” but “helps them feel at ease” because of the casual setting.
Rutledge said Rodney and Diana McManus, Coffee Stop owners, welcomed the group because they value youth ministry.
The Faith Jam will be from 5 to 9 p.m. at the park and is free. A pool party is planned from 9 to 11 p.m. with a $5 donation requested. It’s a social time mixed with faith messages by speakers and bands. It is open to middle and high school students and those in college.
Entertainment will be provided by Levi Marie from New Castle, Pa.; Nick and Mallorie McManus of Salem; Anthony Monteleone, Christian hip-hop artist; and a praise band from Cleveland.
Speakers will be Bob Kimple, school representative with Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Dave Kahout, an inspirational speaker; and Dick Hartzell and Jeremy Brammer.
In between entertainment and speakers, there will be Bible trivia games.
Rutledge said the goal of the Faith Jam “is to fire up their faith before school starts.”
He cited Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...”
“We want the kids to stay strong in their faith and not be ashamed of what they believe or expressing it,” Rutledge said. He said peer pressure does affect youths’ behavior.
The Faith Jam will show young people that “they’re not alone,” Rutlege said. “There are many young people just like them who have a love for God.”
Sometimes, he said, knowing you’re not alone is helpful. “They can stand with someone,” he said.
The Faith Jam will have prayer tent, where youths can pray or have a prayer request on a one-on-one basis. It will be a more private setting, Rutledge said.
Luci Patterson, a member of First United Presbyterian Church and mother of five sons, is among organizers. “The goal is for kids to stay strong in their faith,” she said.
She said youths are sometimes teased if they wear a Christian-themed T-shirt or are heard talking about the Bible. “Showing them they’re not alone is important,” she said.
Last year, the event attracted about 30 participants. This year, Faith Jam promises to reach a wider audience. Patterson said fliers and e-mails were sent to churches. “We’re hoping for a good turnout ... maybe about 100 or more,” Rutledge said. He noted he’s received inquiries from other youth groups about the event.