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Maple Ridge to host two youth rallies this year

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LOWVILLE — This year’s Maple Ridge Winter Youth Rally will be split in two, catering to varying age groups.

The first rally, for high school and college-age students, will be held Saturday.

“Last year was a little more successful than expected, so we decided to split it up and offer something more specific to age groups,” said David Nisley, media and outreach director.

Saturday’s event will begin at 6 p.m. and run until about 10 p.m. For $10, youths can tube down the hill and take part in a hot dog roast over a bonfire. There also will be a worship service, although Mr. Nisley said the event is open to youths from all over.

“Obviously there’s going to be some who will get more out of the worship part than others, but I don’t want to limit this to just people who have gone to church their entire life. I’d love this to be an event where teens from the entire spectrum can just come and hang out,” Mr. Nisley said.

The 2013 event drew 100 to 150 teens. Mr. Nisley said organizers are hoping for just as successful a turnout at each event this year. The tubing center has 100 snow tubes on hand, which will be rotated through as people come down the hill. The event also is open to youth group advisers.

The March 1 middle school event will be largely comparable to the high school and college event, but with a different message.

“This year’s theme ... is about identity. We’re not looking for big, drawn-out debates about denominational-specific beliefs and traditions,” Mr. Nisley said. “I’ve read way too many obituaries for kids younger than I am, and I’ve talked to way too many kids who don’t feel important, loved or able to change the world. This isn’t a suicide prevention event, but that conversation is certainly important. The dreams and goals of younger generations is just as valid as anyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be ignored.”

Mr. Nisley will be the guest speaker at the event. Worship will be led by last year’s guest speaker, Tyler P. Sant, pastor of Youth Ministry at Fulton Alliance Church in Fulton.

The March event will be staffed by Maple Ridge employees, but overseen by Word of Life Bible Institute.

“This night isn’t for ‘perfect’ people who have grown up going to church; it’s for anyone on the crazy awesome roller coaster called life,” Mr. Nisley said.

In the event of poor weather, a cancellation or postponement notice will be posted on the Maple Ridge Facebook page under Maple Ridge Center.

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