Praise dance an exercise in relationship-building
Moving in rhythm, with biblical lyrics, a form of outreachBy Wil LaVeist Mennonite Mission Network
In a park near Macau Mennonite Church, a group composed mostly of women moves in unison, offering rhythmic praise.
To the left they sway, gracefully swirling their arms to the music, toward the sky and then to the right.
Forward they step, arms pumping, like synchronized swimmers on land. They smile as sweat beads cool their foreheads.
“It’s beautiful to see people moving together,” said Tobia Veith, a Mennonite Mission Network worker from Saskatoon, Sask., and one of the founders of the church on the southeast coast of China’s mainland. “It’s a picture of unity and joy.”
In praise dance, which originated in Taiwan, participants move to worship music. At first glance it might appear like tai chi, a Chinese meditative exercise rooted in the martial arts.
Dancing in groups in parks is a tradition in Chinese culture, so praise dance is an appropriate form of outreach, Veith said.
The music is composed by Wu Mei Yun, a Christian and retired music teacher in Taiwan.
Yun also choreographed the dances, using styles from Chinese traditional to aboriginal, Spanish, Hawaiian, ballet, pop and hip hop. The lyrics are Bible passages.
Praise dance offers health benefits such as reduced stress, weight loss and the joy of connecting with others.
The latter reason is why Treasure and Bailey Chow, co-pastors of Macau Mennonite Church, began the praise dance group in the park as a form of outreach.
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