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Parachurch gathers youth together

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

Staff Photo by Scott Rodgers Ryan Abel, far right, talks to other interested individuals about Electric Cathedral.

The Electric Cathedral’s mission is about uniting a generation for the Kingdom of God. The focus isn’t on missions or discipleship but on true, organic relationships.

The group hopes to create “environments where young adults can experience God through worship, teaching and community.”

Ryan Abel, one of the group’s organizers, said they hope to bridge the disconnect between the younger generation and religion.

“I think the disconnect is obvious,” he said. “You hear your whole life that the youth are the future, but once you graduate high school, there isn’t much there. Some churches do a great job of offering a program or a Bible study, but most churches don’t have the resources to fund a young adults ministry that can be effective. It’s a weird transition. At what point am I no longer a young person? At what point am I considered an adult? You leave your youth group as a dynamic leader and step into the adult world of the church and you’re an 18-year-old ‘kid’ whose opinion isn’t valued or respected. What it all boils down to is that you get lost in the middle, searching for somewhere to connect. You’re not a youth anymore, but you’re also not a 40-something with kids.”

Abel said another fissure is that Augusta isn’t a small city, but it’s also not the size of Atlanta or a other metropolises.

“A church here can be doing all the right things and only have 40 people in that demographic attending,” he said. “What Electric Cathedral hopes to do is create atmospheres that will engage the young adults from many different churches and provide an opportunity for them to connect. We feel this will strengthen the church and won’t take away from the local churches. After all, Electric Cathedral is not a church, it’s a parachurch organization.”

The organization already has the support of a number of North Augusta churches, including TrueNorth and First Baptist of North Augusta.

Phillip Greer, a North Augusta resident and another organizer of this project, said the organization is hoping to answer many questions that young adults have.

“We live in a society that continually provides temporary happiness, and the vast majority of young adults these days do not realize the difference between that temporary happiness and true joy,” he said. “They start to live their life ignoring the innate feeling that there is a creator, and they become reliant on society to fill the gaps and emptiness. It is when their world is turned upside down and society can’t provide that happiness that they start to think about their innateness with the creator. It is crucial that the disciples of his word are reaching these people before this happens, and showing them the hope that exists through God.”

The Sacred Heart Cultural Center, 1301 Greene St. in Augusta, will serve as the base of operations.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Abel said. “It’s a central location, and since we are a parachurch organization, we thought it was important to be at a neutral location. Also, there is something cool about taking a structure that was built in the 19th Century and bringing in modern technology.”

Greer said the support from the community has been both humbling and helps bring the idea to reality.

“We realized quickly that we can’t do this alone, and God has started to provide through these avenues,” he said. “Most of the donations we are receiving are in the form of volunteers, lights, sound systems and willingness to promote. All of these churches combining together make the church so much stronger, and it is powerful to watch that happen.”

The parachurch organization has a Facebook page that can be found by searching “Electric Cathedral.” They are also on Twitter @ECathedral. The first service will be on March 10, with doors opening at 7:15 and starting at 7:30 p.m.

Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.

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