Rock Band on Wheels Shows High Schoolers Christ’s Love in Surprise Celebrations Outside Their Front Doors
‘Rock and Roll’ Commencement Ceremonies Are No Senior Prank for Louisville Graduates
July 7, 2020
Louisville, Ky.— High school seniors living through the COVID-19 pandemic are among the few graduates in modern history to lack a graduation ceremony like the ones Americans remember as ordinary—except in Kentucky.
As thousands of high schools across the U.S. cancelled, postponed, or truncated graduation ceremonies, a group of youth advocates were working to turn Louisville’s senior class swan song into a rock concert.
Graduating seniors throughout Louisville recently opened their front doors to a loud surprise: a rock band on wheels. Playing from their truck-bed-and-garden-trailer stage, local Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) leaders and volunteers strummed and sang an original song and tossed custom-made band shirts into small crowds of siblings, parents, and pets.
The seniors learned YFC’s celebration of their achievement is not easily silenced—not even by safety masks.
“Well, as we know, all the graduations were cancelled, so we’re going to seniors’ homes today,” Will Howlett, YFC Louisville Campus Life director, said. “We’re bringing Christ right to them by offering a tribute to them. We have an original song that we’re going to play in front of their homes.
“It’s an eight-home tour today, and it’s going to be rock and roll.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put many important events and personal rites of passages on hold indefinitely—high school graduation ceremonies painfully among them. That’s why YFC leaders set about making sure graduates had a suitable replacement for “Pomp and Circumstance,” the traditional graduation processional music, and not, as it were, “Teenage Wasteland.”
The rock-and-roll ceremony was intended as a concrete expression of the love of Christ that YFC leaders try to share with students.
“We know it’s hard, but we want to show them the love of Christ and encourage them as they continue on with their lives,” one YFC worker said.
“We’re going around saying happy graduation, singing some songs, making sure we share, and still share, the love of Jesus,” said another.
A socially distanced rock band was just one of many ways YFC reached out to students. YFC leaders assembled and delivered graduation gift bags filled with a new Bible, books, candy and gifts cards for Amazon and local restaurants. Even a local NBA player jumped on board to contribute gifts cards.
YFC also partnered with local churches to ensure graduating seniors received the pomp and circumstance they earned.
“They didn’t get to finish out the year and didn’t have the graduation, but here’s what we’re trying to do—do our part as the local church to show the love of God,” said one local pastor.
Nationally, Youth For Christ is telling inspiring stories like these through #YFCBeTheStory, an initiative to help spread the word across the nation about how YFC chapters are making a difference in their communities.
Youth For Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has more than 160 chapters impacting communities across America.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.