Welch spoke at three different services during the day in the church’s large auditorium, which was packed for each session. Fans came from throughout the region and beyond, according to The Bakersfield Californian, which gave the home-grown star’s church chat front-page coverage.
With more than a decade of stardom under his belt with Bakersfield-bred Korn, Welch told the crowd he looks forward to a solo career after battling a methamphetamine addiction and failing to find satisfaction from fame and money.
That changed when a friend dragged him to Valley Bible Church late last year. “I was begging to die,” Welch told the audience, according to the paper. “He (God) saved my life. I’m here. I’m breathing.”
Pastor Ron Vietti joined Welch onstage where, seated on upholstered chairs in front of Welch’s gear, they talked to the audience.
The church reported it had received a number of threatening e-mails because of Welch’s conversion, mostly from outside of California. Bakersfield police officers were present to keep things running smoothly.
Welch said he planned to start writing positive songs and lyrics, and setting a good example for his 6-year-old daughter.
“Me and my daughter have the best relationship I have ever dreamed about in my whole life,” the Californian quoted him as saying.
Korn fans traveled from as far as Chicago. One, Zack Fromm, flew out from the Windy City on Welch’s invitation.
“It was pretty much an eye-opener,” Fromm told the paper.
Some fans said they didn’t understand why Welch felt he had to leave Korn because he’d become a Christian. The guitarist told them the band’s lyrics don’t mesh with his new values.
Teenage Korn fan Richard De La Cruz told the paper he didn’t believe Welch would quit.
“That was my favorite band in the world,” he said while waiting for an autograph. “I was hoping it was going to be a joke.”