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Young Lions Learn Skills and the Bible Through Drumming

Photo Provided Young Lions Club leader Keith Miller, is shown with his son and drummer Malachi Miller, who is wearing a T-shirt with the new logo, and India Davis, the artist who designed the new T-shirt logo. Both Malachi and India are students in Afterschool Jam at Laughlin Memorial Chapel where the Young Lions Club of drummers was started.

WHEELING — Laughlin Memorial Chapel in East Wheeling is home to the Young Lions Club, a group for boys in the community who want to learn drumming skills. Under the direction of Keith Miller, facilities coordinator at LMC, and his son Maurice Miller, club members have learned and improved their skills enough to have been invited to local churches and events to perform.

For a group that is about a year old, that is quite an accomplishment. Program coordinator Judith Saunders said the Young Lions look forward to weekly practice sessions and field trips. She added that anyone who would like to invite them to an event may contact her at laughlinchapel@wvdsl.net for details.

YLC members also receive instruction in character-building lessons taken straight from the pages of the Bible. Keith, a minister at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Wheeling, knows firsthand the value of such instruction as he helped lead a similar group which met at LMC during his time here as a mentor right after he was graduated from high school.

“I am proud to be a part of this new Young Lions Club,” he said, “to carry on a tradition that combines challenging boys with Biblical lessons and teaches them about playing drums.”

Keith’s son Malachi Miller is a member of the father/son-led YLC.

Recently the YLC wanted a logo to use on T-shirts which were to be purchased for members’ use when traveling to other locations, T-shirts to identify them as the Young Lions Club team. India Davis, a participant in LMC’s Afterschool Jam, a student at Wheeling Middle School, and a gifted artist, was asked to create a logo. She drew in pencil a lion holding drumsticks in his mouth, combining the club’s name and the club members’ skills, thereby developing the logo.

Davis’ mentor at LMC, Ellen Saunders, praised Davis for both her talent and her dedication to her schoolwork.

“India is a credit to her family,” Saunders said. “She is a young lady of much talent and her character is fine. She adds positivity to our classroom at Chapel, and does well at any task she is involved in.”

LMC’s Executive Director Dr. Georgia Kurko contacted PLC Design of West Alexander, Pennsylvania, to inquire about the process to follow to turn Davis’ pencil drawing into a T-shirt graphic. With the help of PLC’s Kelly Hancher, the original design was computerized and a graphic was produced. The final version is shown in the photo on the T-shirt worn by student drummer Malachi.

Hancher donated her time and skills to LMC as well as the T-shirts now being worn proudly by the YLC leaders and members, and said that “the donation was provided in order to show our support of the Chapel and the drumming group.”

The T-shirt’s bright green background highlights the black line design Davis created and Hancher computerized, and is attention-getting as well. The YLC members agree: they wear the T-shirts with pride and they like being identified as group members when they take the stage to perform. “It really made us feel important when we saw the shirts,” Malachi said. “Before we had the shirts, we just wore whatever we wanted. Now we are part of the Young Lions Club and everyone knows that by the shirts.”

In a twist of irony, when Kurko received the donated shirts, she noted that the T-shirts were manufactured in Haiti, a country that has a close connection to the YLC’s Biblical curriculum. “The writer of that curriculum is Pastor Byambison Pierre, who was born and raised in Haiti,” she explained.

Pierre was contacted by LMC and asked to write the 34 lessons that form the foundation of Keith’s character-building instruction through YLC’s sessions.

“These shirts are manufactured all over the world,” said Hancher. “We simply place our orders; we don’t designate the country from which we get our products. It’s a coincidence.”

That coincidence is reassuring to Kurko. “When you’re talking about the mysterious ways of God at work in our world with young men who will be the leaders of the community tomorrow,” she said, “it’s just a nice sort of reassurance to have all of the details of a relatively small part of a plan come together like that.”

In a bigger overview of the planning that resulted in the formation of the YLC, Kurko sought and received a grant from Synod of the Trinity to fund the group. “What a blessing that was,” said David Demarest, pastor at Rock Hill Presbyterian Church and Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, as well as vice president of the board of LMC. “The grant enabled us to start Young Lions Club and create yet another way to enable the Chapel to influence the youth of the community in both character and skills.” Demarest added that the drummers recently provided worship music in a meeting of the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery.

The grant provided funds for the YLC for the calendar year of 2018, allowing members to take field trips to various congregations to participate in worship service as well as to perform at a meeting of the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery. In the present time, those who support LMC provide the means by which the YLC continues. Keith emphasized his gratitude for those who help the drumming group with financial gifts. “We couldn’t do what we do without funds,” he said. “The Synod grant started it all. Thank you to the community for the encouragement and support shown to the Chapel.”

Laughlin Memorial Chapel cares for and empowers children and families through working cooperatively to positively impact the standard and quality of life in the greater Wheeling area and in doing so enhances and reflects God’s love. It has been in operation since 1946 and its work is fully supported through grants, sponsorships, and individual gifts from throughout the region. Anyone or organization who would like to add support to the Laughlin Memorial Chapel, call 304-232-2630 or go to their website: https://www.laughlinmemorialchapel.org.

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