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One of the most exciting and awe-inspiring occasions on the yearly calendar for Zion Hill Baptist Church (ZHBC) is its Oukumo, the closing ceremony or graduation of adolescent male and female students from the ZHBC Rites of Passage Program. The theme for this 2012 ceremony is The Serengeti: African Pride. Over forty students enrolled in the 13-week program have been infused with historical tenets of Christian faith and African American culture--newfound knowledge to build bridges of strength, pride, and determination for future success as leaders in the local and global community. Zion Hill Baptist Church located at 6175 Campbellton Road in Atlanta will present the “Oukumo Closing Ceremony” Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. Admission is FREE and plenty of parking is available.

With the program in its 18th year, the graduates ages 13 to 18 will join over 400 other proud alumni having completed the program since its beginning in 1994. They are the young men (Adigun Nkosi) and the young women (Kentake) who will symbolically crossover from youth to adulthood, joined by family and friends to celebrate their journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Mrs. Sheila Parker, wife of Pastor Aaron L. Parker and Coordinator of the Rites of Passage Program, explains, “This year’s theme, The Serengeti: African Pride likens our youth to the cubs of the African lion’s pride and coming of age. And, it further uses the Christian biblical reference as children of the “Lion of Judah” with the blessing of elders who have imparted to them crucial life lessons that prepare them to approach life with knowledge and training in their roles as Kingdom royalty.” The elders of the program who also serve in various leadership and outreach ministries at Zion Hill have also served as instructors during for the course. The have taught these young “ lions and lionesses” the importance of their contribution to their families and communities; how their
active participation in collective work and responsibility supports the well-being of the entire community; how to use their spiritual fortitude and intellectual strength to expand their God-given territories; how to find and use
the power of their voices to bring about positive change and defend those who have yet to find their own voices; and finally, how to gain independence as self-disciplined adults using what they have learned to grow families of their own.

The Rites of Passage Program is one of the many programs designed to engage and empower the youth of Zion Hill and other youth invited from throughout the community to take advantage of an opportunity for this unique training. The public is invited to experience the closing program and the significant accomplishment as the students graduate from one of the most advanced programs of its kind within the context of the church and
youth ministry.

For more information about the Zion Hill Baptist Church Rites of Passage Program and the Okumo, call 404-691-8025 or go to www.zionhill.org.



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