LEWISTOWN - Over the past year, the Penn State community has taken a hard hit. As students, alumni and fans received news of the child abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, they were overcome with shock and disbelief.
"They put their heads down and they were ashamed," Bernard Carpenter, pastor at Bethel A.M.E. Church, said.
But there is no reason the negative publicity surrounding the school can't be turned around, he said.
"We lose so much when we turn our back in the midst of a crisis," Carpenter explained.
In September, Bethel A.M.E. will host a community healing service in an effort to bring positivity back to the area.
"We can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but there has to be a group of people willing to do that," Carpenter said. "It was a no brainer to me... let's do it."
The service will include performances by three musicians including Carpenter, Dave Hartsock and Rick Alderton. Penn State football players Miles Dieffenbach, a sophomore guard, Alex Butterworth, a junior punter, and Ryan Keiser, a sophomore safety, will be present to speak about their feelings and the courage to move forward with their team.Their pastor, Joel Kramer of Victory Christian Fellowship, will also deliver a brief message during the service.
"I hope it will bring back the pride we had in Penn State," Alderton said. "What better way to do that than to hear from players?"
Jane Alderton agreed, noting that she is a season ticket holder and looking forward to a new season with head coach Bill O'Brien.
"Even though the negative has happened, that's not going to keep me from my dedication to Penn State," she said, adding that she hopes the service will reach those who have negative feelings toward the university or football program.
The one thing Carpenter said he wants people to understand is that the service is not just about Christians, but about a community that is hurting.
"It's not only for healing, but to continue with a positive attitude," Jane said.
The community service begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at Bethel A.M.E. Church, 23 Juniata St., Lewistown. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
After the service, guests have the opportunity to greet and talk to the players.
For more information about the service, call the church at 248-3530.