Want night life and a party, but not a bar? Try 'Declaration' at Bradenton church

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 16, 2013 

MANATEE -- Javisha Strong is known for her pure-as-mountain-water singing voice and her big smile.

Shekinah Morales' forte is her ballet dancing, which, friends say, has given her uncommon grace.

Dominique Walker's strong handshake and overall sense of strength is his calling card.

People praise Tiona Wilson for her creativity and passion regarding faith.

Brittany Simmons' singing is described as mellow and smooth and William Morland's welcoming personality could give him the nickname, "The Ambassador."

These six, along with drummer Tate Anderson and Meika McClendon and Ariane Brown, who are described as the "glue" that keeps the group together, comprise the talents of the nine-member Aftermath Ministries worship team at Praise & Deliverance Ministries Inc., in Bradenton.

All nine, sort of likeCharley's Angels or The

Avengers, aim to focus their unique talents and skills on the upcoming "Declaration," a special Friday night service at the church.

The nine will sing, dance, praise and declare for God and try to encourage others to join in, said the Rev. Shelton Times, senior pastor.

"It's a party for Jesus," Morales said.

The event, which is designed to be an alternative to a Friday night at a club, is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the church, 2309 14th St. W., Bradenton.

Although the event is designed for people from ages 18 to 30, which Times calls "the lost demographic," he said he would be thrilled for anyone to stop in.

"It's for young people from age 8 to 80," Times said.

Dress is casual. "Come as you are," Strong said.

The idea for "Declaration" originated with young people at the church who believe that somewhere out there in Bradenton or Sarasota are people who are tired and wary of the bar scene, but still feel drawn to night life and a party atmosphere.

"Instead of a club or bar scene, Declaration is a safe haven where people can have good, clean fun, hear encouraging words and be motivated to make right decisions," said Morland, who is a case manager for the Safe Children Coalition at Manatee Glens.

Aftermath members are excited about the event, which has never been tried in this exact form at the church.

"Our mission is to help young people stand up for what they believe and let them know they do have authority," Morales said.

"It's won't be a traditional service," Morales added. "It's a service where we vow to leave everything behind to get to know God."

Wilson, who is a registered clinical social work intern at Manatee Glens, believes it's a fallacy that people can't have real fun on a Friday night without going to a bar or club.

"It's fun having a one-on-one relationship with God and fellowship with others," Wilson said.

"And even better, there are no hangovers and no wondering what you did the night before," Simmons said.

The Aftermath Ministry team may get the ball rolling Friday if the crowd is shy.

Morales will dance. Strong will sing.

"She's a leader," Times said of Strong. "She has a heart for people."

The team will "send some praises into the atmosphere" through their singing and dance to get the spirit flowing, Morland said.

By 8:30-9 p.m., Times predicts people will be talking, sharing, laughing, praising and declaring on their own.

"It becomes a free-flow and God has His way," Morland said. "It goes until whenever God deems it to close."

Wilson, who is 26, remembers her own struggles with wanting to go to traditional night spots when she was a young adult.

"We are young, we are doing what teens do," Wilson said. "But what you discover when you go to clubs is that there is no true peace in any of it. You say to yourself, 'My life is more than a party.'"

The church's Aftermath Ministries has held several socially relevant events in the past, including a rally against violence attended by hundreds in 2011.

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