‘Group effort:’ Youth conference grows in acts, churchesPublished 9:13pm Friday, February 15, 2013
Bath’s River Church has quite a reputation.
For the past six years, the church has organized an annual Ignite Youth Conference with top-notch contemporary Christian entertainers.
The conferences have grown each year. It went from an audience of about 300 to selling out the Turnage Theater. Now, the conference has moved to a larger site.
The church’s reputation won’t suffer a bit after this year’s conference, which will be held at Transitions Theater on March 2. Rather than book one or two acts as in past years, River Church booked a touring group.
The ensemble features popular motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs and Christian artists Audio Adrenaline, Group 1 Crew, Manic Drive and Seventh Day Slumber.
River Church pastor Ron Bousquet said Dabbs is an incredibly popular, talented speaker worldwide.
“He is awesome. He is probably the most sought-after youth speaker on the planet,” Bousquet said. “He’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects. He’s also pretty hilarious. He could be a comedian.”
The conference may be billed as a youth event for high school and college students, but Bousquet said there is something for everyone in the “Kings & Queens” performance.
Two-time Grammy winner Audio Adrenaline has been a popular act since forming in the 1980s. This is the band’s first tour since announcing its comeback in September 2012 and adding lead singer Kevin Max.
“And their lead singer, Kevin Max, is a four-time winner. He used to be with a group called DC Talk. We are their second tour stop,” Bousquet said. “The really neat thing about this tour is there’s such a variety. Anything from harder edge to hip hop to pop, just a tremendous variety.”
Manic Drive won GMA Canada’s 2012 Hard Rock/Alternative Album of the Year, and
Group 1 Crew recently had a chart-topping song, two weeks running.
Bousquet said tickets to the show have been selling well. They are available at O’Neal’s Cellular in Belhaven, Good News Bookstores and online at iTickets.com.
“We have groups coming from all over the place. One group is even coming from West Virginia,” said Bousquet. “In fact, that group comes every single year. They said that this particular conference is the cheapest conference of anywhere in the United States.”
The secret to reasonably priced tickets is the support the church receives from sponsors and other churches, Bousquet said.
Washington’s Harvest Church, Cornerstone Family Worship Center and Washington Assembly of God Church will be lending a hand this year. River Church has about 80 members — and that’s counting the children. Bousquet said help from the other churches would come in handy.
Corporate sponsors like O’Neal’s Drug Store, 98.3 FM The Bridge, O’Neal’s Cellular and New Beginnings Fitness Center have covered nearly half the cost of the show.
“This event, it could not happen, at least for the price, if not for our sponsors,” Bousquet said. “They’re super people. The funny thing is, with the exception of O’Neal’s Cellular, none of these sponsors attend my church. These are just people who see the vision and are willing to put their money where their mouths are.”
Despite growing attendance, River Church has not always seen a profit from the event. In fact, it lost about $1,000 doing last year’s production. Instead of scaling down the conference, it planned something grander.
Bousquet said he was not concerned about the money, but hoped to accomplish their goal of helping youth.
“We do it to help young people. Kids have a lot of pressure, lot of peer pressure. They need to know that there’s hope, there’s answers, there’s something better,” Bousquet said. “They need to know that there’s something for them in life. They just need to reach out and get it.”
The Ignite Youth Conference will be March 2 at the Transitions Theater, 230 West 8th Street, in Washington. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 5:45 p.m. show. For more information about the conference, go to http://ignitestudentconference.com/ or call Bousquet at 943-8198.