April 30, 2004
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
(UMNS)—When Kappitola E. Williams and Celinda Hughes stepped on the
floor of the 2004 General Conference they were dancing on prayers.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Liturgical dancers from Kapp N Kompany at Fort Street UMC, Atlanta dance during the opening worship.
daunting task of gathering more than 70 dancers from all over the world
and bringing them together in a single accord was supported and based
on prayers from the two coordinators who never actually got to be in the
same room together until hours before the opening worship service.
“We prayed together and shared our thoughts,” Hughes says.
lives in Nashville, Tenn., and Williams lives in Atlanta. They created
the dance in their minds and brought it to life in Pittsburgh.
had less than eight hours to teach more than 70 people who had never
heard the music a whole choreographic piece,” Williams says.
a choreographic piece to people at all different levels of experience
and styles of dance, helping them understand the spirit of the dance and
putting them at ease was quite a challenge,” Hughes says.
from Hughes’ local church, Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church,
Nashville, Tenn., and Williams’ Atlanta-based Kapp N Kompany were joined
by the Liturgical Dance Choir, Gales Ferry (Conn.) United Methodist
Church; Living Springs Christian Fellowship United Methodist Church,
Bowie, Md.; North Country Ballet Ensemble, United Methodist Church of
Plattsburgh, N.Y.; and Sacred Dance Choir, Contoocook (N.H.) United
“We had dancers from age 6 to over 50,” Hughes says.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Dancers from Kapp N Kompany at Fort Street United Methodist Church in Atlanta perform during the opening worship
Both Hughes and Williams agree that dance is a way of worshipping that is open to everyone.
don’t call it dance, I call it the moving word,” Williams says. “The
movement comes directly from the Spirit, and you have to go inside to
come outside. Anyone can do it; anyone can worship through the moving
dance helps “touch all the senses” in worship, Hughes explains. “We
need to continue to bring texture into our worship services, to weave
together the word in different ways.”
Williams brought garments from all over the world for the dancers to wear in the opening ceremony.
power of the spirit came through those garments,” she says. “Everyone
was skeptical at one point at putting on the feathers (headdresses), but
it became a revelation for a lot of people.”
Putting on the garments of other cultures is one way to symbolize we are all one, Williams says.
Incorporating parts of other cultures helps people “see themselves,” she says.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Celinda Hughes of Gordon Memorial UMC in Nashville, Tenn., dances during opening worship.
allows the senses to relax if a person just sees a part of their
culture, if a person sees a fan or a piece of fabric from their country,
it’s like, ‘Oh, they are thinking about me.’”
Hughes and Williams arranged dancers in between the bishops for the opening processional.
“It was part of the royal depiction, the coming together,” Hughes says. “It was 1,000 tongues singing God’s praise.”
Both agreed the bishops were warm and gracious and willing to walk and do as they were asked.
of the bishops told me later that having the children and youth brought
life to what could have been a stiff processional,” Hughes says.
“Everything is going to happen if we just move out of the way and let God have the way,” Williams says.
has been dancing since she was in elementary school and is the minister
of dance at Gordon Memorial. She teaches dancers starting at age 3.
addition to running Kapp N Kompany, Williams travels all over the world
“bringing the moving word.” She also is co-founder of Cantemos, a youth
dance company in Atlanta.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.