Christian activities set for Parkersburg’s City Park

Photo by Jeff Baughan South Parkersburg Baptist Youth Pastor Rick Marshall, seated, City Soul Ministries Youth Pastor Amy Keiser, left, and Pine Grove Baptist Youth Pastor Mike Rubin are three of the youth pastors who have joined together to help make Rally in the Valley a reality.

PARKERSBURG — Two days of youth-driven, Christian-oriented activities begin noon today at Parkersburg City Park for the second annual Party in the Park.

The five-hour event features a 2 p.m. concert at the band shell by Chrematizo Label Group band Jason Lovins Band.

The second part is Sunday’s first-time Rally in the Valley, 2-5 p.m. event at Parkersburg South High School for students fifth grade through high school seniors.

“We had a turnout of a couple of thousand people last year for the first party in the park,” said South Parkersburg Baptist Church Youth Pastor Rick Marshall. “We ran out of a lot of food items.

“But we’re going to have hot dogs, drinks, ice cream to eat, inflatables for the kids to jump on,” he said. “We just intend to have more of the food this year.”

But it is the Rally in the Valley where a great deal of emphasis and energy is being placed. “It’s a collaboration of 12-14 Mid-Ohio Valley youth pastors,” said Mike Rubin, youth pastor at Pine Grove Baptist Church. “This is all of us coming together to understand each other and to strive for one common goal, which is to make disciples for Christ,” he said. “Together we can have more fun and get more accomplished.”

“It’s going to allow kids to get to know other kids at other churches,” said Amy Keiser, youth pastor at City Soul Ministries, “but to also get to know other kids at their own schools who share their faith. They’re going to find they have more support and will be able to show more support for others of faith at their schools after the weekend.”

Besides games, according to Marshall, “both group and interactive for kids to connect with,” he said, “there will be a prayer room for students to talk with counselors and a prayer room for people wishing to pray.”

Marshall said the event is being contained to the Rod Oldham Athletic Center and there is no admission charge for either of the weekend’s events.

The Jason Lovins Band will be performing Sunday as well. Blind Journey, a local multi-denominational band, will open Sunday’s performances. “We’d like to make this an annual event and expand it into Ohio,” Rubin remarked.

“In today’s world, a lot of kids are not raised by two parents,” said Marshall. “We want to provide an outlet for kids without parents to not feel threatened and have fun learning something about Jesus. We want them to know we are available. We have a network of youth pastors in the area which are growing and will be throughout the valley.

“The network is for a student who doesn’t attend a church, or attends a church not close to their house to have someone to talk to about whatever they’re concerned about.

“No one is out here looking to steal someone’s kids out of one youth group so they go to another’s youth group,” he continued. “That’s not what we’re about and that’s not what we’re doing.”

“The church doors are always open,” said Keiser. “Our doors are always open to kids where they can go talk to someone for whatever reason.”