Hundreds turn out for annual celebration

ELKINS – More than 200 people came out for the second annual Hillbilly Kids’ Crusade Wednesday at the Elkins Church of God Family Worship Center.

The four-night Bible school culminated with an event featuring games, food and fun for family members of all ages. Wednesday’s event included entertainment from church members portraying different “hillbilly”-style characters.

The entertainment featured “Cletus,” played by Pastor Jamie Estep, and “Slim,” portrayed by Kevin Hostetler, getting themselves into mischievous situations with a full cast of other characters getting into the mix.

Estep said the theme of the event is meant to reach out to children while also providing entertainment for adults.

“The fact is that it is an idea of reaching the total family as opposed to Bible school that targets just kids.

“It is a program, ministry, that is targeted to reach all ages as opposed to one demographic,” Estep said.

He said this year’s event was meant to restore joy to people in a world that can be filled with trials and tribulations.

“The goal of this is really simple- it is to come in, in a world where every day is filled with stress, worry and frustration, and our key verse as a staff is Psalms 51:12, which talks about restoring the joy of salvation,” Estep said. “We want people to spend a couple hours with us and leave with a smile and know there is joy in the world. That is our prayer and passion this week.”

Estep said the staff make sure each night of the event is different to keep the kids guessing about what is going to happen next.

“I think the kids’ favorite part varies each night. It’s the surprise because each night we try to do something different. They ask themselves ‘what is going to happen tonight that didn’t happen last night,'” Estep said. “Our main goal is the worship. My favorite part as both Pastor Jamie and Cletus is the worship and altar service.”

Estep said he was pleased with the turnout for each of the four nights of the program, saying there had been more than100 children in attendance each night.

“We have been very awesome with the turnout,” Estep said. “We are very pleased. This is what we want.”