Festival is bringing churches together

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2003

When Park Memorial United Methodist Church's minister, the Rev. Steve Rascoe, was 10 years old he attended a Billy Graham crusade.

"I watched people in awe as they responded by coming down to the front and making a commitment to the Lord," said Rascoe. "I can still remember that feeling."

He said Graham's crusade was an "unbelievable experience" and that Scott Dawson's Hope for You Festival will be equally memorable.

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"We're hoping to create a whole new attitude and perspective for Troy," he said.

It has been several years since Pike County has seen the cooperation between churches on such a grand scale.

Rascoe said it was time for Pike County to do something about that.

The perfect opportunity presented itself after Park Memorial youth minister Randy Bruner took his youth group to Crestview, Fla., to be part of Pathfinders, which is a youth mission that coincides with the Hope For You Festival.

For Bruner, the idea was an answer to his prayers.

When Bruner arrived three years ago, he began praying for "something big" to come into the community.

"We're craving something spiritual in our lives," he said.

"The piece missing is Jesus Christ."

Rascoe and the Pike County Ministerial Association agreed with Bruner and decided now was the time to act.

Mike Greer, the festival director, said plans for Troy began in September.

Since then, he has been working carefully with the local pastors to plan for the four-day festival.

Scott Dawson brings his crusade to town on invitation only and Greer said the local pastors were eager to bring him to Troy.

"The local pastors feel like the area is ready," Greer said.

"September to June is a long time but the momentum has built steadily."

But local church leaders aren't just looking for a brief religious coming together, they're hoping the festival's influence will be lasting and far-reaching.

"We need to get back to the basics and realize again what our morals and standards should be," he said.

He said there is a lot of loneliness and broken and searching people.

He hopes the festival will allow them to find their answers in a non-threatening way.

"Some refuse to come to church and this gives them a neutral ground," Rascoe said.

If people will give it a chance, Rascoe said the festival will be something to remember and hold on to.

"It will be a great experience for adults and a unique experience for the young people," he said.