Canoe Creek Brethren in Christ Church rocks out concert-style one Saturday night a month.
The rural house of worship attracts about 100 people to its Last Saturdays event, called that because it is held the last Saturday of every month.
"Sometimes it's rowdy, and sometimes it's introspective," said Scott Elkins, pastor of the church that is across from the entrance to Canoe Creek State Park.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) Tammy Carnicella of Hollidaysburg, a member of Glorious Reign, plays the keyboard at a recent Last Saturdays event held at Canoe Creek Brethren in Christ Church.
Glorious Reign, the church's contemporary Christian music praise band, plays for about two hours in the sanctuary. Snacks and coffee for listeners are available in the lobby.
The band plays songs made popular by such contemporary Christian artists as Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Three Days Grace, David Crowder and Tenth Avenue North.
Children are welcome and often dance in the aisles waving glow sticks. Preschoolers to adults in their late 70s come from Altoona, Hollidaysburg, Huntingdon, Williamsburg and Tyrone to listen to the contemporary Christian music served in a coffeehouse-style atmosphere. Campers vacationing at Canoe Creek State Park are sometimes among the crowd.
Many of the people who come to Last Saturdays are regulars at the church. Others are friends of church members, neighbors of the church or just music lovers.
Canoe Creek Brethren in Christ Church is music-oriented. About 15 percent of the 100-member congregation plays an instrument or sings in Glorious Reign, which also leads worship Sunday mornings.
About a year ago, the band members started Last Saturdays as a way to reach out to more people with Christian music and also as an outlet for their desire to play more often.
"It wasn't my idea," Elkins said. "It was the band members'."
"We're always trying to get the community involved," said Jamel Mallad, Glorious Reign's drummer and a member of the church. "It's unreal the amount of talent we have in this little small church."
Although Last Saturdays isn't a formal worship service and doesn't include a sermon, some people find themselves expressing their devotion to God when they hear the praise music.
"They are worshipping in their own way," Elkins said.
Whether listening or playing, Mallad is among those who find themselves moved by the music.
He was going through a rough time when he started coming to Canoe Creek Brethren in Christ Church. His wife had just left him, and his two children were small at the time. He wasn't quite ready for church, but a friend convinced him.
"I really wasn't going to church at all. I turned my back on church all together," Mallad said.
On his first visit, he heard a drummer was needed in the praise band. A couple of weeks later, Mallad, a lifelong drummer, started playing with the group.
He then turned his life to God.
"Music has always been a really huge part of my life. God talks to me through music. I hear his message in the songs," Mallad said. "I was born again and was baptized. Now I'm a soldier for God."
Music is also a big part of life for band member Jeremy Jack of Altoona.
He was recruited to play bass guitar for Glorious Reign about a year and a half ago. Jack owned a bass but had rarely played the instrument.
"I was friends with the pastor. It's a pretty eclectic group of musicians. They're fun to play with and that's appealing to me," Jack said. "Whether it was church or otherwise, I would have said, 'sure.'"
He wasn't necessarily searching for a church either when he joined the group but was happy to get his 4-year-old daughter Hannah and his wife, Melissa, involved. Jack and his family have grown to enjoy the church, and Jack loves playing in the band. He looks forward to weekly rehearsals, Sunday services and of course, Last Saturdays.
"It's been good for me as a musician. It's forced me to play bass a little bit," Jack said. "It's nice to play somewhere where it's quality music and I can take my kid. We can show up and have a good time.