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Ag Expo welcomes praise music

July 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Ag Expo and Fair welcomed a new attraction Sunday, getting in on the growing popularity of contemporary praise music.

The music, with its familiar rock music style, is becoming popular among churches as a way to attract youths.

Fair officials expressed an interest in having a contemporary Christian music show at the fair and at least three local bands pitched in to help, organizers of Sunday's 6:30 p.m. show said.

Roughly half of a set of bleachers set up at a stage were filled with spectators, some of whom waved their arms in the air and sang along with performers.

Linda Puffenberger of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said she learned about the show through a brochure and wanted to attend.

"I love the Lord," said Puffenberger, who set up a front row seat with a fold-out chair.

Among the bands was the Hosanna praise team from St. James Brethren Church in St. James.

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The band started as an opportunity for youths to come by the church on Sunday evening and jam, said Kristy Burgan, who plays piano in the group.

Now, Hosanna plays in the church's regular services on Sunday morning, Burgan said.

"We kind of like eased the church into it," she said.

Burgan said contemporary Christian bands are a favored way of attracting youths to church and it works because people don't feel intimidated by a church when the music is luring them in.

"It's just their kind of music. They're used to it. It's a little more hip music," said spectator Duane Harne of Inwood, W.Va.

Randy Fishell of Smithsburg said he leads a praise and worship band at the Willow Brook Seventh Day Adventist Church in Boonsboro and decided to see how some of the other local bands sound.

Fishell said some people feel threatened by the more openness of a contemporary praise and worship approach and the new ideas of faith practice that it stimulates.

"We like a little of both, to be honest with you," said Fishell, who was attending the show with his wife, Diana.

Other groups performing included Living Stones and Life House Band.

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