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Youngsters give church feedback during Gospel Expo

Leadership hopes to guide next generation

RIVERDALE — Young people came from across the Southern Crescent and some from as far away as Louisiana to minister to one another and to talk with church leaders about their role in the church.

Mundy’s Mill High School student Andre Lamar greeted guests arriving for the premiere of Saints Fellowship Gospel Explosion. The gospel explosion was held Saturday at Heaven Bound Church at 345 Scott Road in Riverdale.

Lamar, 15, said it was difficult to name only one thing that stood out during the event. He acknowledged he was impressed with the praise dancers.

“To see the young dancers minister in front of everybody like that, was amazing,” said Lamar, a 10th-grader. “You don’t see a lot of young people minister like that for Jesus.”

Lamar said his favorite performers were the “Think Outside the Box Praise Dancers.”

Bishop Paul Morton’s Church, Greater Saint Stephen’s Next Generation Crunk Praise Dancers; New Macedonia Baptist Church Youth Department choir and praise dance team; Praising God Constantly, a Christian rap Group from St. Louis nicknamed “PGC”; Sheree Kemp and Voices of Praise ministered during the event.

“Our young people have done a good job and have been very inspirational,” said Avary B. Kemp, the senior pastor of Restoration Community Outreach Center. “The youth had some very tough questions concerning their place in the church. Leadership did not back down to the tough questions. They were very candid with their answers and they were scripturally based. This was our first Gospel Explosion and we are looking forward to next year being even bigger and better.”

Bishop Donald Battle served as keynote speaker for the event.

“God is about to turn the church around,” Battle said. “God said, ‘In the last days, I am going to turn the hearts of the children back to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children.’ ”

Leon Stanley, senior pastor of Heaven Bound, estimated nearly 250 people attended the event with nearly half of those being youngsters.

“The young people really listened and participated by asking and answering questions during our symposium,” Stanley said. “We were connecting the older generation with the younger generation, and I believe we filled that gap. I hope they leave here tonight knowing that they are accepted in the body of Christ.”

An excitement filled the sanctuary as “PGC” ministered several of their tunes, including “It Shall Come to Pass.”

“It was fun,” said Demonte Saucier, 11, a Mundy’s Mill Middle school student. “I liked all the singing and dancing, especially PGC.”

Danyelle Stanfield, a seventh-grader at Sequoyah Middle School, said she also enjoyed “PGC” along with the symposium.

“They were telling us that we should be prepared to go to Heaven,” Stanfield said. “Because drinking, smoking and killing is not the way to have an eternal life with God.”