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Plugged In

Finding God in video projections and electric guitars

February 06, 2005|Ava Chin | Ava Chin is the editor of "Split: Stories from a Generation Raised on Divorce."

"Kairos is really fresh and new and not restricted by tradition," says Stephen Gordon, a 19-year-old USC freshman with choppy blond hair. "It's been great to meet other people who are also on fire for God."

Like a number of members, 25-year-old USC graduate Rob Schickler grew up in a conservative church with traditional hymnals. "Kairos is completely different. The evening service has a kind of coffee shop, open-mike-night vibe that's great. It's contemporary worship without sacrificing scripture."

Eric Blumber, a 26-year-old singer in the band that performs regularly at the church, lists Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and worship bands such as Chris Tomlin as influences. "We're bringing people closer to God with music . . . . If people are feeling dead, we want to bring them back to life."

Toward the end of the service, Woodward begins his closing prayer. The lights lower and the musicians start to reassemble.

"Lord," Woodward says, arms raised, as the congregants lower their heads, " . . . you offer each one of us here the red pill, which will allow us to see you and your reality clearer . . . . We take that pill now, because we want to live in your reality."

With "amen" he leaves the stage area and the lights go up again. As the band starts playing, the congregants are suddenly on their feet and singing, even on the balcony. Woodward is in the back, pacing, red in the face, one hand in a pocket of his jeans.

A young woman in a pink parachute skirt and Ugg boots is dancing on the hardwood floors. A Virginia Tech graduate hugs a friend. Woodward stops pacing and starts singing. For a moment, it looks as if he's crying.

When the band begins a U2 song, "40," everyone is dancing, and everyone joins in on the chorus, "I will sing, sing a new song," they sing, as the lyrics shift across the screens.

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