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ApologetiX show opens new facility

| Friday, Feb. 25, 2005

When the people at Community United Methodist Church in Penn Township were looking for an act to be the first "headliner" at their $3 million addition, they knew they wanted something special.

How about a Christian rock band that's played in 44 of the 50 states and is headed to Australia next year?

How about a group whose album and most-recent single have been bouncing around the top of the Christian-hits charts for more than a month?

How about a band with a fan club that on Tuesday topped 45,000 registered members?

CUMC got all of this, and did xwe mention the band is locally based?

ApologetiX, known even on their own Web site as "that Christian parody band," will appear at 8 p.m. Saturday in the new "Multi-Ministry" room at the church at 3487 Route 130.

Scott Mains, chairman of the building committee at CUMC, said the new room is the product of a capital campaign "By Faith We Build."

"Truly, the name 'By Faith We Build' is how we did it. It was based on 'equal sacrifice,'" he said.

Translated for the real world, that means everyone in the church was asked to believe enough in the project to give up something for it.

"Some delayed the purchase of a new car, some gave up vacations. ... Everyone did something," Mains said.

The new facility can seat up to 650, has a full-sized basketball court and can be used for other sports events. And other than its consecration and a wedding, this is the first time the public can get a good look at it in use.

The expansion also added seven classrooms, increased parking from about 120 spaces to more than 250, and allowed for air-conditioning for not just the new building but the existing church sanctuary.

CUMC moved from downtown Harrison City to its present location in the 1960s, and went through one building-expansion in the mid-80s. The faithful keep coming, and the church is filling the present 300 seat sanctuary at nearly 80 percent with three services each weekend. Already, Mains said, they're looking at phase two of the current campaign. "In the next five years, we're hoping to have a sanctuary that can seat 700."

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at the church office, by calling 1-877-777-4tix or purchased online at www.ccauthority.com/apo022605.htm .

Karl Messner, lead guitarist for ApologetiX, says the band is looking forward to the show, which is also a return to its roots.

"We've played in Irwin a zillion times," he said. "Our first several hundred shows were at a place called the Paradise Club. ...We went there to play on open mike night once ... and ended up becoming the house band.

"My wife is from Irwin, her parents still live there, and they're all going to be there, as are my parents."

Friends and family of singer J Jackson will also help pack the house -- he's a Greensburg native.

ApologetiX's playful but serious parodies of contemporary and classic rock are often compared to "Weird Al" Yankovic, one of the few parody artists on the national radar, but where Yankovic's music often marries Top 40 sounds with polka chords, ApologetiX stays true to a broad range of music.

"We play classic rock, modern rock, maybe throw in a couple of hip-hop tunes, country ... if the kids are bad, we'll play some country," Messner joked. "Our 'audience' ranges from 10-70, and people from all those ages will be there. We'll play something for everybody."

The universal appeal of parody is part of what helps the group's fan base -- "e-fan-gelists and fan-bassadors," Messner calls them -- grow.

"Parody has been popular for thousands of years; it comes from Greek. It's popular because people like to learn new things in a familiar setting. We all learn our ABCs to a parody of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,' but how many people even think of 'Twinkle, Twinkle' when they're singing it• People don't think that's parody. It is. We call ourselves 'musician-aries' because we teach, but as that great theologian Mary Poppins said 'just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.'"

So in the ApologetiX canon, Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" becomes "The Real Sin Savior," Nine Day's "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" is the "Story of a Squirrel," that spent time on Noah's arc, and Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom," an MTV staple, turns into "JC's Mom."

Messner is producing a new acoustic disc that will be available only to members of the group's fan club. He's close-lipped about the contents, but will allow that it's "basically two guys and two guitars ... and some songs we thought we'd never get around to."

"Some of our songs, like our version of Extreme's 'More than Words,' 'More than Works' are already set up that way."

Their version of the song tackles one of the primary differences between the Catholic and Protestant churches, coming down "firmly on the Protestant side," that salvation is found by faith and not just works.

"It's also a fantastic song with incredible harmonies and clever guitar parts," Messner said.

The faith vs. works debate has been keeping theologians busy for about 500 years. ApologetiX delivers their "sound-tract" in about five minutes.

The band's recently expanded March tour will also include a stop next Saturday at the Scottdale Showtime Theater. Tickets are $12, and advance tickets can be purchased online at www.apologetix.com.

"We're really looking forward to that show, too," Messner said. "It's a turn-of-the-century opera house, and the acoustics are fantastic." Additional Information:

ApologetiX

Community United Methodist Church

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: 3487 Route 130, Irwin (Irwin-Harrison City Road)

Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the door

Details: 724-744-4758

Scottdale Showtime Theater

When: 8 p.m. March 5.

Where: 111 Pittsburgh St., Scottdale

Tickets: $12

Details: 724-887-4721

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