By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer
UNION TOWNSHIP - Thousands of people expected to attend a worship service tonight for Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin will hear a message that God is their source of hope and strength.
Maupin's family will attend the service, and at a sunset ceremony afterward, family members will light a 6-foot electric candle that will stay lit until Maupin returns.
Brent Snook, pastor of First Baptist Church of Glen Este, 1034 Old Ohio 74, will tell those attending the 7 p.m. ceremony for Maupin, the 20-year-old Glen Este High School graduate held hostage by Iraqi insurgents, that God is the source of strength and hope, especially during a crisis.
"We're looking toward heaven for strength," said Snook, who will lead the patriotic and spiritual service.
"I don't want people to come to our church and just hear a message of hope that Matt comes back. I want them to understand where our hope comes from."
The ceremonies, originally planned for Veterans Memorial Park in Union Township, were moved indoors after rain was predicted.
The one-hour worship service will link patriotism with spirituality. It will include renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and "God Bless America," followed by a medley of songs about deriving strength from God.
At 8 p.m., armed forces support groups will hold a "Light the Way Home" ceremony. The family will light a yellow-ribbon-adorned electric candle, which will be taken to Veterans Memorial Park.
The groups will announce the start of a display at Meijer in Eastgate for pictures of loved ones in the military. Supporters encourage people to place small electric candles in their windows to "light the way home" for Maupin.
Loudspeakers will also be placed outside the church.
Parking at the church lot is limited to media, people with disabilities and dignitaries from the government and military who are expected to attend.
All others are asked to park at the former Garden Ridge Store parking lot, 822 Eastgate North Drive. Shuttle buses will leave for the church every 15 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m.
To get to the church from downtown Cincinnati, take Interstate 471 south, turn onto Interstate 275 east toward Columbus, then take the Ohio 32 East exit toward Batavia. Turn left at Glen Este-Withamsville Road, then right onto Old Ohio 74. First Baptist is one-third mile on the left.
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