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Hagerstown Rescue Mission celebrates Fall-o-ween

Event is a Halloween party with a Bible lesson

Event is a Halloween party with a Bible lesson

October 23, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN ? This is not your grandma's Bible lesson. Nor is it a neighborhood Halloween party.

But the fundamental elements of the two converged Tuesday afternoon at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission's Fall-o-ween Party at the Trinity Center.

"We are trying to attract today's youth culture," said Becky Shank, Hagerstown Rescue Mission's director of development. "We want the kids to have fun, while at the same time we do what we do to instill values."

Children dressed as a fairy princess and a scrubs-clad doctor raced across the dimly lit gymnasium in a cupcake-eating relay as music from a horror film blared. Shortly after, Aretha Franklin's "Respect" blasted from the stereo while all 99 children in attendance sat on the floor preparing for story time. Orange decorative lights glowed and animated ghosts danced on an oversized screen.


Becky Shank's son, Chris Shank, is director of the mission's children's ministry, Wildside Kids. Shank said the ministry provides parties for children ages 5 to 11 just about every month, as well as a once-a-month gathering called Sunday Rawks. All the children's ministry lessons have been focusing on respect.

"Right now, everything is about respect. We are focusing on respecting other people and teaching life qualities. We try to keep it all as fun as possible and free," Chris Shank said.

The mission publicizes its events primarily to children who live at Noland Village and Frederick Manor, and the West End and Jonathan Street areas of Hagerstown, Shank said.

The party, which was from 4:30 to 6:30, included a meal, traditional autumn games like bobbing for apples, and prize drawings, along with music and worship time.

Mitcha Shay, 50, of Hagerstown volunteers at Wildside Kids activities. She said while she does not particularly care for Halloween, she sees the Fall-o-ween party as an opportunity to share her faith.

"This is the most kids I've ever seen here at one time. That's the whole idea. We want kids to tell their friends. They need somebody to tell them about the Lord Jesus. That's why we are here," Shay said.

A 7-year-old boy from Hagerstown was dressed as a mummy, wrapped from head to toe in gauze.

"I come here because we have fun and we play games," he said. "And I like to learn about the Bible."

His 10-year-old cousin said he was dressed as a "ghost gauze."

"I like to come since you get to do fun activities. Mostly everything is all fun and we talk about Jesus. I got baptized at another church. I think it's good that they teach about Jesus," he said.

Assistant Director of Children's Ministries Adrian Black said he hoped children would leave the event with a sense of respect for those in authority and a message of faith.

"I hope they know what it means to be on God's side, to make a decision to live their lives God's way," Black said. "I hope the kids have fun and take stuff away that will help change their lives and change the world, too."

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