BRADENTON -- On a recent Friday evening, all was dark inside Lineage of Faith Church except for members wearing white tops glowing from nearby black lights.
Teenagers handed out glow-in-the-dark bracelets to worshippers in the narrow church at 862 62nd St. Circle E. Long green foam sticks were given to young children to worship with during the service, delivered in Spanish and English -- the latter to avoid alienating those most comfortable with English.
More than 40 people trickled into the "Glow in the Darkness" children's service -- the first of its kind this year at the non-denominational bilingual church, which opened in Bradenton last September after a few years in Sarasota.
Lineage of Faith (called "Linaje de Fe" in Spanish) prides itself on being a "Spirit-filled church with a Prophetic and Apostolic vision."
"When we speak about a prophetic church, we are speaking about a church that hears clearly the voice of God -- that is led by revelation not only through the scripture but through prayer, through seeking God... and that we are able to speak what God really wants us to speak," said Arlene Maltes, co-pastor of Lineage of Faith.
The 38-year-old was a cosmetologist before she opened the church with her husband, Luis Vazquez, 24.
The former pastor's daughter has had a difficult past.
"I was a woman who was beaten. I was a woman who was abused for 11 years," she
said. "I was alone for five years and then he (Vazquez) came into my life."
Maltes said this is why she and her husband concentrate on restoration so much in their church. They help youth work through issues such as drugs and sexual abuse.
"Being broken ourselves, having dealt with so many issues, we try to make everyone feel welcome" at Lineage of Faith, she said. "We have them come as they are."
"Come as they are" means in part not having to adhere to a specific dress code -- something that some Lineage of Faith members had to do in the past in other churches.
Vazquez said serving as co-pastor alongside his wife is "an honor and a privilege."
The couple sat back on this particular evening for the service, highlighted by an uplifting sermon by Reyna Wright, leader of the children's ministry, in between songs of worship.
"There is power in the name of Jesus... to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain..." began one song played by a disc jockey to the left of the church entrance.
Every member praised differently.
One man stood in the middle of the aisle, clapping his hands and stepping joyously from side to side. Maltes' mother, 68-year-old Carmen Maltes, sat and cried "Bendito Dios (Blessed God)" whenever moved during the sermon.
At one point, members of the children's ministry performed a dance. A group of boys circled around one kneeling boy, whose hands were "shackled" by glow-in-the-dark bracelets linked to simulate handcuffs.
The boys put their hands on the boy in the middle and prayed. He was later able to break free and the cluster held up signs reading: "Free to lift my hands" and "Free to shout."
Adults were invited to come forward with their children or young family members and worship with them. Some cried.
Wright's husband David and son Jake stood by the side. The father held his 9-year-old son -- both had their eyes closed in worship.
"I felt good that my dad was by my side... because he's always pretty much at work," Jake said afterwards.
"They are showing me what it is to read the Bible, learn from it and just simply accept it," Wright said about the children after service. "I sit down with them in class and we begin to worship and they're so quick to just lift their hands and sing. They don't care if anybody is looking at them like us adults."
Before she joined Lineage of Faith, Wright was a member of a Pentecostal church, which she described as having many "man-made laws."
"You were told 'You don't do this'... but in Christ, when you come to Him, he's free. He makes you free," she said.
At Lineage of Faith, Wright said she's able to be free.
"It's OK for me to dance, it's OK for me to wear pants," she said. "It's OK for me to put on makeup... it's OK -- God loves me that way."
Michelle Rosado, 14, joined Lineage of Faith last year after moving from Pennsylvania to Sarasota with her family.
"I feel more with God, deep with God here because here they don't treat you like you're different," she said. "They treat you like you're loved."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.