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CHURCH REACHES FOR GENERATION XERS METHODIST PASTOR TRIES TO BRING IN NEW BLOOD.

Byline: Bettie Rencoret Special to the Daily News

LANCASTER - Lancaster United Methodist Church is extending itself for young Generation X adults - particularly those who have never graced the inside of a church before - with a multimedia, multisensory worship service.

``The ConneXion,'' scheduled as a third service every Sunday, aims at reeling in prospective church worshippers.

``We need to stimulate people in their 20s and early 30s to come and actively participate, just as the older members did in their day,'' Pastor James Ledgerwood said. ``This is a way we think we can draw them into the fold.''

The new Sunday evening service - which draws about 150 people, about 50 of whom have no connection to Lancaster United Methodist - is different from traditional Sunday services, to the dismay of some older members.

There is no sermon, and music comes from guitars and drums on the dais.

Stories promoting moral values are recounted on videotape, in drama and in some conversational testimony, and Ledgerwood and youth minister Kirk Hurd are not above sitting in a raft on the dais and getting sprayed with water to make a point.

To discuss the program, the church will host a meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. May 13 at 918 W. Ave. J.

``By speaking to this 'now generation' in jargon and music they can identify with, we hope to help reinforce good life decisions - ones that will work well for them in the real world out there,'' Hurd said.

Even the time frame for the service is different. A light supper will be served, for an optional donation, at 5 p.m. in the church fellowship hall, then worshippers will gather in the sanctuary at precisely 5:43 p.m. The service is expected to end anywhere from 6:40 to 7 p.m.

Worshippers can sing, clap in rhythm, and shout their approval if they feel like it and, in the end, answer an altar call from Hurd.

Older church members will provide coffee and snacks, which can be consumed in the sanctuary, and also take part in the service.

Worshippers could arrive wearing baggy pants, bare midriffs and caps turned backward, the youth minister said.

``The Lord knows where they're coming from and we just want them to feel at home here,'' Hurd said.

``The important thing,'' said the church pastor, ``is to get the right message across and we think we're doing that. Of the approximately 150 who show up every Sunday night, about 50 are from out in the community. I'm sure some of them have never had a church experience before.''

The service is another way the church can fulfill its mission in the community, Ledgerwood said. Lancaster United Methodist hosts a soup and sandwich kitchen serving about 250 homeless and needy people every Monday and Thursday. The church also hosts Red Cross blood drives and regularly provides meeting space for other organizations.

``We've always had our youth projects which have been sanctioned by the church body as a whole, but this is different,'' said Ledgerwood. ``We're trying to speak to an entirely different age group.''

For information on The ConneXion service, call (661) 942-0419.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

From left, Cera Ridgway, Kirk Hurd, Doug Lee and Teresa Hood perform for Lancaster United Methodist's ConneXion.

Bettie Rencoret, Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 12, 2002
Words:555
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