Sam Barnhart preaches with a guitar.
The musician said he has learned more about ministry touring with Christian rock band Bleach than he has sitting in ministerial-arts classes.
Mr. Barnhart, 26, said he enrolled at Kentucky Christian College in Grayson but left 30 hours short of earning a degree in youth ministry about four years ago.
"I will finish up eventually," he said. "What I was studying was preparing me for what I am doing."
Bleach will headline a concert and youth rally at 7 tonight at The Warehouse, 610 Industrial Park Blvd. in Evans. Augusta band Carpenter's Bride will open. Cary Sanders, a survivor of the 1999 shooting at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., and Mary Damron of West Virginia, a national spokeswoman for Samaritan's Purse, based in Boone, N.C., will share the stage.
The back-to-school concert has a message - young people need to stand against violence, said Penny Wasden, an organizer. "One person can make a difference."
The performance by Bleach will be one of the first stops on a 38-city tour that ends in early November, Mr. Barnhart said.
The Nashville, Tenn., band plays in churches, but it also books neutral venues where non-Christians would be more comfortable.
The group released its third CD this year, the self-titled Bleach. Its style, dubbed power pop, is catching on with a broader audience. "It has been cool," Mr. Barnhart said. "We've been hearing comments that (the) mainstream is picking up our stuff. We're along for the ride."
Getting a listen from the secular culture is confirmation to him that his band is relevant, he said. "Jesus was relevant."
But he and other band members are turned off by the rock-star image. "People think just because you play rock 'n' roll, you have to be snobby. Kids are tired of that. People are tired of that."
When their bus rolls into town, they look for places where young people hang out so that they can spend time with them. After the show, they are back at the hangouts.
He and other band members - David Baysinger, 24; Matt Gingerich, 25; Jerry Morrison, 21; and Milam Byers, 23 - have encountered many brokenhearted teens on the road. Some had been abused. Others watched their parents divorce, he said. "It is a lot of real-life things. College tries to prepare you, but it never can completely."
For more information, call 736-8676 or visit the band's Web site, www.bleached.com.
What: The Warehouse Gathering, youth rally featuring the bands Bleach and Carpenter's Bride and speakers Cary Sanders and Mary Damron
When: 7 tonight
Where: The Warehouse, 610 Industrial Park Blvd., EvansCost: $8, group discounts availablePhone: 736-8676
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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