Former Korn Guitarist Baptized in the Jordan River



Pastor Ron Vietti, right, accompanied by other pilgrims, dunks ex-metal guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, center,

 in the Jordan river in northern Israel March 5 .Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch was baptized in the Jordan river

after quitting his band and drugs PHOTO ON THE RIGHT OF THIS PAGE.


KIBBUTZ KINNERET, Israel (March 6) - Ex-metal guitarist Brian

 "Head" Welch was baptized Saturday in the Jordan

 river, just weeks after quitting his band, drug habits

 and rock-and-roll lifestyle for religion.

Welch, a founding member of the multi-platinum metal

band Korn, joined some 20 other white-robed Christian

pilgrims from a Bakersfield, California, church who were

immersed by their pastor, Ron Vietti, in the cool, gray

waters near the shore.

Despite saying he was there to be "dunked in the water,"

 Welch said the ritual baptism had washed away his anger.

"You know when you get angry and it builds up? I felt like

hurting someone before, now I feel like hugging people," he said.

Wearing a silver cross necklace and earring, Welch,

 with "Matthew 11:28," tattooed prominently across

his neck in reference to a Bible verse stood out from his fellow pilgrims.

Pastor Vietti said Welch, who also has "Jesus" tattooed

 across his knuckles, is already attracting a new group

 of young people to the message of Christianity.

"Because music is such a big thing in the world, Brian has

natural avenue for sending a message. In recent weeks

people have committed their lives to God because they're

so inspired by his story... They think

there's fire in him," Vietti said.

Welch is one of thousands of pilgrims baptized annually

in the revered river. According to Biblical tradition, John

the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Baptism

 is a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water

 to admit and purify a new or rededicated Christian.

After 13 years with the band - and the rock-and-roll lifestyle -

Welch said he has become increasingly depressed and

drug-addicted in recent years. The band announced his resignation Feb. 22.

"Everything that people think a rock band sees and goes

through, multiply that by 10," Welch said. "The drugs and

everything you can imagine, I've got to get rid of it, man. It wasn't me."

Welch said he has finally ended a dependency on methamphetamines

 and other drugs. He said he had been ready to give up on life

after several addiction treatment programs did not help him,

 until turning his life to God allowed him to quit.

Welch said he has been angry for more than two years and

 that it has negatively affected everyone close to him.

"My managers at Korn, I've been tormenting them for the

last couple of months," he explained. "They thought I was

mad at them but I'm not. It's something inside me spiritually

that needs to be fixed."

Welch said he plans to release music and help kids. "My songs

 are God saying things to me, him talking to people. He's going

 to use me to heal people and people are going to be drawn

to it, just watch, they will be."

Korn's self-titled 1994 debut was heralded for its haunting,

edgy songs. Music critics and fans attributed much of Korn's

 unique sound to Welch and fellow guitarist James "Munky"

Shaffer. During the 1990's, the group climbed to the top ten

of almost every alternative/rock station in the U.S. and Europe.

Their sixth and final album with Welch, "Take a Look in the Mirror,"

was released in 2003.


              WE ARE HERE FOR YOU MARCH.8.2005