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Program teaches value of ‘purity’


Organizers and participants in a youth-focused “Purity Ceremony” have vowed to flip the script and make virginity “a badge of honor” rather than a “tag of shame.” Organizers and participants in a youth-focused “Purity Ceremony” have vowed to flip the script and make virginity “a badge of honor” rather than a “tag of shame.”

LaLita Bivins and Lonnie Bivins were on hand to support Lauryn Monger during the “Purity Ceremony” last Saturday. (Photos by Shirley Jackson)

Thirty-two youth from ages 12 to 18 accepted their purity rings and signed vows of purity during a Purity Ceremony Program at Pentecostal Missionary Baptist Church at 1538 Norris Road on Saturday (Feb. 12). With permission from their parents, each participated in a four-week class that featured very frank and open discussions on topics such as pre-marital sex, partying, budgeting and finance, building healthy relationships and their religious beliefs.

Minister Zedric Clayton of Olivet Fellowship Baptist Church was the speaker for the evening and sought to encouraged and inspired the youth. His message – “I Choose Me” – included the sobering observation that “being a virgin has become a tag of shame, rather than a badge of honor.”

Toria Isom, 16, said, “I did this for me. I made a commitment because there are a lot of people my age who are pregnant and I wanted to dedicate myself to God and wait for the person he has for me.”

Aundré Fletcher Jr., 12, said the purity ring means “to be God’s way, to stay clean without drugs and not do things that we are not supposed to do at our young age.”

Fletcher said that one has to pray and wait on God when peer pressure comes.

And, he said, “We learned in our classes that raising a child and being a parent is hard, you have to buy so many things.”

Lauryn Monger, 12, shared some of what she learned during the four weeks.

“I learned that you may have a child and the father may not be around. The father may be out living his life while you are stuck at home taking care of a kid,” she said. “You can’t go to parties or wear the clothes you’d like to wear because you have to think about the child, spending money on pampers, milk and stuff like that.”

Her mother, LaLita Bivins, recognizes that Lauryn is becoming a young woman. She is confident her daughter “will always forge her own path. I trust that she will know how to make those hard decisions as she grows older.”

For the Rev. Steven J. Turner, pastor of Pentecostal Missionary Baptist Church, said the program reflected the dedication of key individuals committed to being proactive rather than reactive.

“I think the children will honor their commitment. There is so much negative out there. If one does fall, there is always someone to help reinforce what’s already been taught,” said Turner.

Stephenie Washington spearheaded the event.

“I have worn a purity ring for about five months,” she said. “We want to continue this process with the children to talk about what they are going through. We will continue classes to capture children who did not have the opportunity to participate with this group.”

Students and instructors interacted during a four-week class before the “Purity Ceremony” on Feb. 12.

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