RICHMOND, Va. – Forget everything you thought you knew about Baptists and dancing. This fall, Baptists in Virginia will be dancing in the streets – literally.
Participants at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, scheduled for Nov. 8-9 in Richmond, are being encouraged to participate in a choreographed “Celebration Dance” in a public venue near the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the downtown site of the meeting.
The dance, say organizers, will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how that event “brings believers from all walks of life together.”
“Virginia Baptists will come together in unity and cooperation through a dance of celebration,” said Paige Peak, assistant executive director and chief communications officer for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board, who is coordinating the event.
Videos of groups across Virginia performing the dance will be shown simultaneous with the BGAV celebration event.
The initiative is part of worldwide phenomenon of “Resurrection Dances” spawned by UpToFaith, a Christian ministry in Hungary, and first performed in a Heroes Square in Budapest on Easter Sunday 2010. In April, Christian groups around the world —including one at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and another in Asheville, N.C. — repeated the dance on this year’s Easter Sunday.
In a similar event earlier this year, 2,000 members of Second Baptist Church in Houston performed on Discovery Green in the heart of the city’s downtown. When the dancers finished, they walked out of the public park, leaving behind their shoes, which were collected by a local mission group for distribution among the needy.
UpToFaith’s original idea apparently drew its inspiration from flash mobs, a popular trend in which groups of people assemble suddenly and seemingly spontaneously in a public place to perform an act, then quickly disperse.
Most resurrection dance celebrations — including the one planned by Virginia Baptists — are performed to a song written by Hungarians Ferenc Balogh Jr. and Tamas Pajor, which has a driving beat with techno and rap elements, describing the “one glorious moment when life triumphed on Resurrection Sunday.” Shelly Matos translated the original lyrics into English.
A training video developed by UpToFaith to illustrate each dance move is widely available on the Internet.
“We’re asking everyone who plans to attend the BGAV annual meeting to learn the dance and come prepared to participate in this unique and fun-filled experience,” said Peak. “We’re also asking that groups of people across Virginia, in the months prior to the November meeting, do the dance at a time of their choosing and submit a video of it to be shown when the dance is performed at the annual meeting.”
Information about the dance — including links to a video of the original Budapest event and to the training video — is available here.