A man with a microphone looks out into the crowd and speaks to the attendees about faith and life decisions. Some people pray, and an open invitation is given for anyone interested in speaking to a minister to come to the stage.

This may sound familiar for a church setting, but on March 13 this scene occurred at a Good Hope High School assembly.

Representatives with Servant Rider Ministries, a local motorcycle ministry that goes into prisons and schools to give encouraging messages, hosted an assembly at the school during a week of exams.

“They gave a motivational message, and the bikers talked about dealing with addiction and changing your life,” Good Hope High School Principal Anita Kilpatrick said. “It was during the week of graduation exams, and we thought we’d give the students a break, with something different toward the end.”

The event went well, Kilpatrick said, until the hosts went a step beyond what is allowed in a public school setting in regards to religion.

“They made an invitation, as far as if you want to know the Lord you can come down,” she said. “Before it started, we told them they couldn’t push church and that they must stay within the realm of what you can do in school. They kind of stepped out of their guidelines.”

Joe Johnson, a member of Servant Rider Ministries who hosted the Good Hope assembly, said the invitation part of the program was open-ended.

“We just asked the kids the question, ‘Where are you going to go when you take your final ride?’” he said. “We specified for the students to answer that for themselves. We presented the fact that if they weren’t sure, they could come down and talk to some of the ministers if they wanted ... We didn’t pressure anyone.”

Johnson said Servant Rider Ministries is also giving a $500 scholarship away to one student at the school.

“We let the students fill out applications for the scholarship, so they’ll be registered for that,” he said. “There’s a whole lot to the good side of this story.”

Kilpatrick said some students were offended by the event, though most stayed and enjoyed the program.

“Several [students] came up and said it was good,” she said. “Some wanted to leave and we let them. The meeting wasn’t meant as mandatory ... some asked not to go, and we let them go to the library.”

Allen said he has received a complaint about the assembly, and noted it should not happen again at any county school.

“We will make sure principals are staying within the guidelines,” he said. “Evidently [Servant Rider Ministries] had gotten outside of those and we are insuring that won’t happen again.”

A reporter with The Times attempted to visit Good Hope High School to speak with students about the assembly, but Allen would not allow access to the campus. The Times also attempted to speak with concerned parents about the issue, though none who were reached agreed to go on the record, or be quoted.

Rumors have run rampant about the assembly in the past week, with the most prevalent rumor being that the assembly was related to Daystar Church.

Johnson, who happens to attend the church, said the Servant Rider Ministries event was in no way associated with Daystar.

“It had nothing to do with the church,” he said. “There are a lot of rumors out there saying this was a Daystar thing, but it wasn’t. That’s not true ... It was a Servant Riders Ministries event.”

On the official Servant Riders Ministries Web site (http://www.servantriderministries.com), which is a registered non-profit organization, there are no links to, or mention of, Daystar Church.

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 225.

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