When school's out early, churches invite pupils in


Can the music from "Louie, Louie" save young lives and souls?

At Rehoboth Church of God in Christ Jesus Apostolic, they believe it can. The West Baltimore church yesterday welcomed 80 children from nearby Alexander Hamilton Elementary School to keep them in prayer and out of trouble.

Rehoboth is one of three city churches that have heeded the Maryland League of Women's Clubs' call for churches to open their doors whenever there are early dismissals. Macedonia Baptist Church and Enon Baptist also are participating in the "Adopt a School" program.

"I think it's going to spread," said Fannie B. Poulson, coordinator of the league's program.

Yesterday, after a routine early dismissal, the Alexander Hamilton children joined some of Rehoboth's Vision Christian Academy students for a service filled with song, prayer and video.

Children repeated phrases such as, "At what time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord." But it was the music from classic rock's "Louie, Louie" that got them rolling.

The music was set to new lyrics: "Pharaoh, Pharaoh. Oh no. Got to let my people go. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

The children sprang to their feet, swayed to the music and sang. They followed the motions of the adult volunteers, bending elbows and wrists while straightening their hands to strike a hieroglyphic pose.

"They still want love, they still want to have a lot of fun," said Gloria Allen, who heads the church's academy for kindergarten through eighth grade and who designed yesterday's program.

Her husband, Bishop Keith G. Allen, is pastor of the church on Poplar Grove Street, where a couple of blocks away, a young man stood on a busy corner and started drinking a quart of malt liquor.

"I think this is a great program," Bishop Allen said. "It gives us chance to show kids another side of life they're not exposed to -- God's side.

"Most young people have no spiritual background. Without that, they have no respect for people, for themselves, for older people."

Nine-year-old Rodger Evans Jr. said he would have gone to a baby sitter after the early school dismissal if the church hadn't been open. From there, he might have gone to play basketball, but said he was glad to be at Rehoboth.

"It was exciting. You get to learn about Jesus and how he died and how he gave his life for us," said Rodger, a second-grader.

Mrs. Allen said the church is trying to fulfill a role as extended family for the children.

"Why can't we reach out to the community, just like in days past?" she asked rhetorically. "We may look at these children as potential thugs or gang members, but I don't want to look at them that way. I want to think of them being full of curiosity, full of love."

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