Teens converge for ‘Jesus Bash’

Published 5:39 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

Erin Stanton, Hope Daniel and Devon Ownby hit the dance floor at The Almost End of 2010 Dowagiac Worships Jesus Bash Wednesday. (Daily Star photo/JOHN EBY)

DOWAGIAC — Union High School teacher Dustin Cornelius, playing percussion in the opening praise band about 9 p.m., dubbed it The Almost End of 2010 Dowagiac Worships Jesus Bash.

Encore School of the Arts was filled Wednesday with teenagers from across the area socializing and playing cards over pop and pizza in the former Lincoln Elementary School gymnasium.

Also in the house were rappers Raymond Massey II, a Cassopolis native who lives in Niles, and his brother, Justin Massey of Cassopolis.

There’s not much history behind what unfolded Wednesday night, but it started with an intense Friday-Saturday-Sunday Deco-TEC fall weekend in Buchanan attended by six Dowagiac students, according to DUHS senior Devon Ownby.

Deco-TEC is an ecumenical movement where groups of “Teens Encounter Christ.” Besides Dowagiac, Cassopolis, Niles, Edwardsburg and St. Joseph are represented.

Deco-TEC is not designed to replace the teen’s home church or youth group.

“There’s no contact with the outside world,” she said. “It was Quiante (Nickens), Sam Courtney, me, Hope (Daniel), Austin (Adams) and Craig Zebell.”

“We all went there and decided it touched our lives so much we wanted to come back to Dowagiac and start our own group. It makes you want to make a difference. Quiante kind of got the idea of making The Network. We had a couple of meetings deciding what The Network would be — Bible study, devotionals, things like that. We wanted to host this (four-hour) party (from 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 29) to encourage more people from our school or to bring back Deco-TEC as a reunion, kind of get together as a non-denominational Christian group.”

Devon added, “The Holy Spirit touches people’s lives, so we invited people to come in and bring their friends who don’t know Christ. It’s taken about a month to get from our weekend to this point. Every Friday (morning before school in Cornelius’s classroom) since Deco-TEC, we’ve had a Bible study.”

It’s already grown to 23 participants.

Adults in attendance include Dowagiac Board of Education and Encore President Larry Seurynck and his wife, Kathleen; school board member Sheryl File and her husband, Paul, a Southwestern Michigan College trustee; Pat O’Keefe and his wife, Linda, who teaches at DUHS; and boxing coach Walter Swann.

“We haven’t decided on a name,” Devon said, “but we’re thinking about The Rock, kind of like in the Bible where we’re building a foundation. If this party goes well, we can figure out other things to do. The Deco-TEC 35 know each other, but some might not know each other. I don’t know a lot of the people who walked in the door. That weekend in Buchanan, I don’t think anyone in Deco-TEC went to that church. Coach Swann wanted me to go.”