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Worship through annual Praise Dance Showcase

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:37PM May 1st, 2014

Sherrilla Hopson, an employee at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Child and Youth Services office at McChord Field, has participated in the annual Grace Gospel Praise Dance Showcase for six years, including April 27’s performance at Lewis North Chapel.

It was a chance for members of her congregation at Roosevelt Heights Church of God in Christ in Tacoma to connect with the local military.

“It gives them a chance to see military life in a different way instead of what they see on TV,” Hopson said. “They see them actually worshipping and having a fellowship.”

The annual showcase brings fellowships from JBLM and the local community to show their faith and praise though dance and musical performance.

The Abrahamic tradition of using dance as a form of worship began in Israel and appears in the Bible’s book of Exodus, where it explains that praise dancing was taught in the school of the prophets.

“Apparently, the nation of Israel viewed dance as a prophetic gifting and treated it as such,” Showcase President Kemi Bell said to the more than 100 who attended.

Fast-forward to 2008 when Cynthia Coatney-Lewis helped create the first Showcase by going into the community and finding other groups who wanted to perform a praise dance in worship together.

This year, there were multiple attending dance groups who are neighbors to JBLM, including No Limtz from Greater Life Church in Lakewood, New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ in Tacoma and Paradosi Christian Ballet Company also from Tacoma.

Groups also came from King County, including the Highest Praise Dance Team from the Preach the Word Christian Center in Renton.

“There were messages of triumph and strength and different groups showed praise in different ways,” Coatney-Lewis said. “We’re all here for one purpose and that’s to praise God.”

Grace Gospel’s Jershika Maple sang Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You” to open the show, while Divine Kinnection Youth Choir from Tacoma performed energetic gospel music during an intermission.

Throughout the two-hour event, the audience and dance groups maintained a high level of energy in worship.

“You can see the love and the fellowship of everybody supporting each other and coming together,” Hopson said.

The gathering has grown from the initial six groups from the first event to this year’s nine. Hopson said that she would enjoy seeing the Showcase expanded over a weekend.

“Instead of just being one small setting after the normal gospel worship, it would be nice to have a weekend workshop,” Hopson said.

Coatney-Lewis said she hopes to expand more into the civilian community to include more diverse groups with different backgrounds.

“We want to show the fellowship to the outside community and outside Fort Lewis,” Coatney-Lewis said.