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« on: August 13, 2004, 10:03:55 AM »

Preacher Pushes Purity as Best Response to Teen Pregnancy Rates

by Allie Martin and Jenni Parker
August 11, 2004

(AgapePress) - In Mississippi, the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, an evangelist and ministry leader says the Church must stand strong on the message of purity.

Recently released statistics reveal that more than 46 percent of all children born in Mississippi in 2001 were born to unmarried women, and one third of those unwed mothers were teenagers. Sad data like this prompts ministers and youth workers to search desperately for ways to reverse these devastating trends.

Ministry founder Gary Permenter spends much of his time traveling the United States, sharing the gospel with young people. He says it is essential for churches not only to reinforce God's standards in the hope of avoiding unwanted pregnancies, but also to reach out to young, unwed parents and their children.

"If we are going to counteract the 46 percent of all Mississippi children born outside of marriage," Permenter says, "then churches are going to have to say, regardless of whose child that is, we have to address this problem."

The young minister urges churches in his home state to be proactive when it comes to addressing the problems of teen premarital sex and unwanted pregnancy, and "to partner with parents to address this in a straightforward manner."

Permenter adds that Christians "have to look for creative and effective ways that are going to get the message of sexual purity to teenagers. Otherwise the culture will continue to pound them with the message this is acceptable."

The Mississippi-based evangelist was a youth minister at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Columbus, Mississippi, for nine years before he founded Gary Permenter Ministries. During his tenure at Mount Vernon, his work with what he fondly terms "the best youth group in the world" grew to be a leading ministry in the state.

Since founding his own ministry, Permenter has conducted revivals, retreats, conferences and camps all across the U.S., and his ministry has grown to include hundreds of speaking dates each year. Most recently he was a featured speaker during "Student Week" at LifeWay's Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, New Mexico.



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