Nighttime inspiration leads to fest for teens

August 13, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - The pie-eating contest, the police helicopter, the Christian music - all of the elements of Saturday's teen festival in Hagerstown sprung from one interrupted night of sleep.

Dale Weaver of Hagerstown said he awoke one night about two years ago, ideas rushing through his mind, and "just started writing things down."

The ideas were for a day of encouraging teenagers to live positive lives.

"We were looking for teens in the community," Weaver said, "to channel themselves into church - not necessarily our church - to try to get them off the streets and into a positive ..." He searched for the right word.

"Well, there's so much junk out on the streets," he continued, stressing the need for "positive ways and good influences."

Weaver and his wife, Maria, lead Crossfire, the teen ministry at Covenant Life Church in Hagerstown. The parents of three teenagers, they said they invited about 50 churches to be part of Saturday's Teenfest at Fairgrounds Park.


Dave Weaver said he hoped to attract 300 teens. By midafternoon, an estimated 300 people had been there, adults included.

A girl walked up to the dunking booth and asked, "How much is this?"

"Everything's free, honey," replied Tony Shingler, perched above the water, soaked after dropping in and getting out several times.

As children tossed balls at the dunk target, Shingler, a deacon at Covenant Life Church, tossed good-natured barbs back.

"C'mon, big dog!," he hollered.

To a spectator, he smiled and labeled the game "dippin' deacons."

Youngsters bashed each other with inflatable clubs, guessed how many jelly beans were in a one-gallon pickle jar, played three-on-three basketball and marveled at a Maryland State Police helicopter - which flew up and away about 2:45 p.m., when it was summoned to duty.

In matching black pants and light blue T-shirts, Tammy Giberson and Miriam Dobson of Word in Motion Dance Ministries did dance steps to "Freedom" by Christian artist Jason Upton. Their arms raised as Upton sang, "Worship now, worship now, worship your God."

After several minutes of moving in the sun, Giberson and Dobson breathed hard.

"It's a good kind of out of breath," Dobson said.

Electric guitar player Rory McAllister was with his band, The Fragment Parade, waiting to go on next.

Rory, 15, described their music as "high-energy" covers of Christian songs. He said he and his friends have played together for only a few months.

The Weavers brought in speakers, too, such as Brandon Nall of the Hagerstown Suns.

Hunter Abbott of Greencastle, Pa., a therapist at Washington County Hospital, said he talked about "life's collisions," the world of calamity, war and danger teens see around them.

"They won't talk about it, but they're scared," Abbott said. "They're looking for hope." He said teens can find that by turning to God.

Maria Weaver said her husband's inspiration to hold Teenfest was similar to a message God gave her to marry Dale.

"Teens need to know God loves them," she said.

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