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Saving Judgment

Haunted houses are a common Halloween attraction, but a localchurch has retooled the idea a little bit.

They call it “Judgment House.”

Clear Branch Baptist Church has organized and hosted theJudgment House for a second year, following their first run lastyear.

Featuring an alcoholic and abusive father, wrecked cars and atour through hell, the church isn’t afraid to touch upon sensitivesubject matter.

“Life is graphic,” said the Rev. Wayne Moak, pastor at ClearBranch. “It’s true to life.

Moak had never personally been through a Judgment House eventbefore he decided to bring one to his church last year.

“I had heard about them before,” Moak said. “We were looking fora unique way to reach out to the community with the love ofChrist.”

Moak said the event is primarily “to evangelize” those who maynot be Christians.

Lori Costilow, a church member instrumental to organizing theJudgment House, agreed.

“Our main target is the lost,” she said.

For those who are already Christians, Costilow hopes the eventwill “encourage them to put more into it.”

To date, the Judgment House has run three nights with about 686people going through it.

The church will operate the event Saturday and Sunday from 5 to10 p.m. and Monday from 6 to 10 p.m.

Groups of about 15 to 20 go through at once. Moak said groupsshould plan for tours to take an hour.

The cost is $3 per person.

Reservations are highly recommended, but those without them arestill welcome. Moak said those without reservations should preparefor the possibility of a long wait, however.

The evening may take only an hour for visitors, but it’s adifferent story for the church.

Some preparations began months ago, and sustained work oncostumes, construction and other efforts began Oct. 1. Each eveningabout 100 volunteers are required to pull the night off, includingthe actors and behind-the-scenes workers.

Costilow described the effort a “great opportunity for thechurch body to grow togther.”

This year’s Judgment House differs significantly from lastyear’s.

“Our whole script is different,” said Costilow.

Costilow said the church purchases Judgment House scripts from aservice that provides them, but they didn’t abandon creative input.They rewrote this year’s script at some points.

Costilow described last year’s Judgment House as “morespooky.”

This year’s has some “edgy” scenes, but it more reality-based,she said.

With tours planned on Halloween night, Moak said the church isproviding an alternative for those not participating in otherHalloween activities.

Costilow said operating the Judgment House during the Halloweenseason attracts some people.

“People are drawn to that, the scares,” she said.

Costilow said groups that come are predominately youth groups,but added, “There is a lot in it for the adults.”

The message is the same for any age, though.

“We want to put people to the point of thinking about theconsequences,” Moak said. “We try to share that God does love themand desires a relationship with them.”