A free, evangelistic concert encouraging youth to abstain from sex is coming to New Oxford High School 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 14.

The Silver Ring Thing is a stage performance including music, special effects, personal testimonies and comedy designed to educate an audience of middle- and high-schoolers about abstinence.

The concert features a Christian message focused on forgiveness and gives audience members an opportunity to embrace a "second virginity."

Those who commit may purchase a $20 silver ring as a symbol and reminder of their decision.

They also receive weekly e-mails from staff of Silver Ring Thing to encourage their continued commitment. They're also asked to name an accountability partner.

A parents' session is at 6 p.m. to educate parents about related youth issues.

A nonprofit organization, Silver Ring Thing began in 1996 in Yuma, Ariz., and moved its headquarters to outside Pittsburgh in Moon Township, Allegheny County, in 2000.

Its leaders believe that neither the distribution of condoms nor the practice of "safe sex" will protect youth from disease, pregnancy or "harmful emotional and spiritual consequences," said Jason Burtt, national director of Silver Ring Thing.

"The promotion of contraceptives in any way is a mixed message, encouraging students to wait, but then expecting them to fail," Burtt said.

Also, "we believe that sexual activity within the context of marriage is God's design and plan for humanity.


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We believe and promote this message because it is the truth. Any deviation outside of this covenant between a man and wife will not carry the same blessing and long-term benefit."

Burtt said abstinent teens experience healthier relationships and increased financial stability, among other benefits.

The New Oxford event is sponsored in part by Tender Care Pregnancy Centers of Hanover & Gettysburg and area congregations including Gettysburg Baptist Church, Bethel Assembly of God and Gettysburg Foursquare Church, Burtt said.

New Oxford High School is at 130 Berlin Road. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. To register, visit the Silver Ring Thing Web site at www.silverringthing.com.

In other religion news around the region:

A toast for agency founder: Jewish Family Services of York is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and honoring its founding father, Allan Dameshek, at a gala dinner 5 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Out Door Country Club in Manchester Township.

Dameshek launched JFS to provide social services for the Jewish community. While serving as executive director of the York Jewish Community Center, he realized it needed specialized, professional social services to thrive.

Gala tickets are $88 and on sale through Friday. Sponsorships also are available. For details, call Carol Beecher at 843-5011 or visit www.jfsyork.org.

The event will also launch the Dameshek Fund, an endowment to help the human services agency serve seniors in need and meet other aging challenges.

Youth protection in diocese: As a part of its Youth Protection Program, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has trained more than 14,000 diocesan employees and volunteers since 2004 in how to recognize and prevent sexual abuse of minors.

Future training will be in the form of a new, 30-minute Web-based program accessible from the diocesan Web site. The program addresses all forms of child abuse (not just that which is sexual) and includes a test for viewers to take at the conclusion to prove their understanding of the issues of abuse prevention and reporting.

The training is required for all clergy, diocesan, Catholic charities, parish and school employees, those studying for the priesthood or diaconate and volunteers who have contact with minors.

These individuals also undergo background checks before they may begin employment or volunteer duties, according to the diocese.

Information sessions about the training will be at the Cardinal Keeler Center in Harrisburg at 2 p.m. Sept. 9 and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17.

A recent independent audit of the diocesan Youth Protection program found the diocese to be in full compliance with all elements required by the U.S. Catholic bishops' standards.

The audit covered 18 months from January 2006 to June 2007, during which the diocese received one new allegation of sexual abuse by a priest.

The alleged abuse occurred 35 to 40 years ago (not in York or Adams county), and the priest has not been in ministry since the early 1990s, according to the diocese. The report was forwarded to civil authorities, and the victim received counseling.

The diocese paid $80,000 in compensation to abuse victims last year. It provided ongoing counseling to two previous victims at a cost of $3,500 and spent more than $114,000 in child protection efforts.

The phone number for reporting suspected sexual abuse of a minor within the context of the church is 800-626-1608, and the Pennsylvania Child Abuse hotline is 800-932-0313.