Women of Praise Express Spirituality through Dance Movements

Article excerpt

When the Rev. Gary Hughes and his wife, Denise, saw Antioch Baptist Church's praise dance group for the first time, they were so overjoyed, it brought tears to their eyes.

"It was so spiritually filled with movements of praise, but there was no singing and no spoken words -- just movements with the body," said Hughes.

Praise dance -- a form of expression born out of mime but with softer, more elegant movements -- is becoming more common at local churches. Women of Praise has been performing at Antioch Baptist Church since May. A similar group, Perfect Praise, formed at Triumph Baptist Church about a year ago. Both are in the Sewickley area.

"Not everyone is cut out for the choir," said Sharon Frank, member of the Antioch praise team. "We choose to express ourselves through movement."

Lynn Hayden, instructor and owner of Dance for Him Ministries of Florida, said it is rare to see such dance teams in Baptist churches. Hayden conducts conferences for praise dance teams, one of which Perfect Praise attended.

"It has grown in popularity, probably because God's presence is so prevalent during worship dance," she said.

In ancient times, dancing was an integral part of worship, and the Hebrew scriptures mention numerous times when dancing was used to express one's thankfulness to the Lord.

Lorraine Grey, vice president of Perfect Praise, said none of the eight members has a background in dance.

"You don't need a dance background," Grey said. "You just have to love God. You just have to have a yearning to serve the Lord. He ministers to us, and we bring it forth in the dance. …