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Shelby church develops youth show for TV

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Graefenburg Baptist’s Hosanna House has grown into its own space and taken to television and YouTube as students minister to families.

By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

GRAEFENBURG – “It started in a small space, set aside in the basement,” Stephanie Sorrell said.

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Hand-made sets and props were pulled out on Sunday mornings. A handful of parents and church members gathered with the children of Graefenburg Baptist Church to sing a few songs and share a lesson. Hosanna House was launched from humble beginnings.

“Children and families showed up!” she said. “They had fun. They invited their friends.”

Hosanna House outgrew its basement space and moved to the main sanctuary in the church. One Sunday evening a month, the room filled with young children, school-age students, moms and dads.

The simple format expanded to include song leaders, a band, a drama team and multimedia images. Moveable sets were built. It became a key feature of the church’s Children’s Ministry.

And it hasn’t stopped there.

That Sunday morning children’s program grew from a few songs and a Christian virtue lesson to a multimedia extravaganza in its own space just off the church fellowship hall.

“More families were coming. The church was growing. We started making plans to add on to our building,” said Sorrell, director of Hosanna House. “Our pastor came to us and offered to include a space for Hosanna House in the building plans. It was such a gift.

“This is our second season in this new space. It’s been wonderful.”

On Sunday evenings, Tom Sorrell, Stephanie’s husband, sits in an upstairs booth, surrounded by mixing boards, video monitors and laptop computers. “We’re completely digital,” he said. “The equipment is professional quality. We air Hosanna House programs on Time Warner’s local access channel and post them on YouTube.”

“The church made a huge financial commitment to this space for us as part of their building program,” Tom Sorrell said. “We’ve got everything we need in this room. Up in the media booth, I run three cameras that shoot from different angles. I run the sound and lights, the PowerPoint presentations. I can add in video clips.”

The sets are professional quality, as well. Stephanie Sorrell’s brother, Daniel Nation, was an actor with the Lexington Children’s Theater. He worked with Russell Mendez, from the theater, to design the sets.

Church members Bobby Hill and Scott Nation joined in to build and paint the sets for the new space.

The stage resembles a clubhouse with a great room, a dining room scene and an area with a garage backdrop.

A live band made up of church members, both teens and adults, accompany a soundtrack for group singing, and school-aged children and teens lead the singing while dancing to the songs on stage. Young children sit on the floor to get the best view of the worship show, and parents sit in rows of seats arranged like pews.

This is a kid-friendly space, where children are encouraged to sing and dance and wiggle. When Pastor Philip Meade takes the stage for the evening’s virtue lesson, he talks with the kids and involves them in his talk.

Hosanna House is a labor of love for the Graefenburg Baptist family. There are usually 25 to 30 people involved in the program, from Steph Sorrell and greeter Regina Rice, to the cast, band members, tech crew and preacher.

Many of the people who make the program happen from month-to-month are family members. The Sorrell and Nation family, the Myles family, the Hill family and others are involved as writers, actors, singers, guitar players, drummers and behind the scenes.

“It takes a lot of people, a lot of energy to offer this program every month. It’s something we feel called to do. It’s a ministry for us,” Stephanie Sorrell said.

The ministry is a “front door for folks, for families to come into a church and worship in a fun, kid-focused service.” It’s an activity during which kids can bring their parents, where the whole family can learn about God and Jesus, and about Christian virtues.

The group has a Facebook page, “MyHosannaHouse – it’s also on YouTube at HosannaHouse – and it includes this mission statement: “Hosanna House is an Experience for Families designed to help create a shared experience to raise the power of family, to engage parents as partners with the church to shape their children's faith and character! We want parents to feel equipped to be the spiritual leaders in their children's lives... because…what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.”

The children who come to Hosanna House want to return. “I like it, Mom, I want to go back,” said 9-year-old Kelsey Hodge, who was initially reluctant to walk into a new space with new kids.

“It’s also a good outlet for older children and teens who like to perform,” Stephanie Sorrell said. “We have youth from other churches in the area in our band and on our drama team. Daniel works with them to develop their characters. They practice four to five times a month, create their costumes, attend tech rehearsals.”

Hosanna House just keeps growing. “We want to keep it moving forward; if you don’t move, you’ll die,” Stephanie Sorrell said. “When we started out in the church basement, we didn’t know what Hosanna House would become. We didn’t expect such grace.”

Hosanna House

WHAT:Youth-presented musical program

WHEN:Sunday night, dinner at 5:30, program at 6

WHERE:Graefenburg Baptist Church, 11288 Frankfort Road.

ADMISSION:Free

MORE INFO:Check MyHosannaHouse on Facebook and HosannaHouse on YouTube