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Orange County

Glories of Heaven and Earth

August 10, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Adding a twist to a familiar theme, the Harvest Crusade in Anaheim mixed fun and Xtreme sports with Christian fellowship at the Edison International Field parking lot Saturday, featuring motocross and skateboard exhibitions and religious rock groups.

Under a clear sky and temperatures above 90 degrees, the crusade's first Summerfest pumped nonstop energy into the crusade's annual goal of helping the curious convert to Christianity without having to step inside a church.

Families and teens strolled through the parking lot, eating funnel cakes, ice cones, burgers and barbecue while the bands Sonic Flood, Kutless and the Elms rocked on stage.

The bands Delirious? and Audio Adrenaline were scheduled to play at a nighttime Harvest Jam.

Harvest organizers said they expected the usual capacity crowds inside the ballpark all three nights, with about 10% of the spectators coming forward to profess their newfound faith.

If traditional patterns hold, 50% of those will attend church within the next month, according to crusade statistics.

Bringing Xtreme sports and rock to the Harvest Crusade, a summertime tradition in Orange County for 14 years, was designed to show young people that they can be cool and still follow the teachings of the Gospel.

"People think, 'To become a Christian I have to dump all the fun stuff in my life,' " said Ralph Arthur, a pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, where the crusade has its origins.

On Friday, the crusade's opening night featured the first public viewing of a four-minute preview of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion," scheduled for release on Ash Wednesday next year.

Scenes from the unfinished film, which Gibson has called an unflinching and historically accurate depiction of Jesus' death, were shown on the Jumbotron at the stadium.

In recent months, the film, which uses only Aramaic and Latin dialogue, has generated controversy among some Christian and Jewish leaders who worry that the movie could spark anti-Semitic feelings and rekindle age-old tensions between Christians and Jews.

The festival concludes today with a night of worship featuring music by Mercy Me, Tommy Walker and a 1,000-member choir.

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