During the past week, we have been reveling in the joy and healing that comes from dancing unto the Lord.
During the past week, we have been reveling in the joy and healing that comes from dancing unto the Lord. 40 young women between the ages of 13 and 30 gathered at the Shalom Center, a peace education, environmental education and spiritual development project of the Pentecostal Church of Chile, supported by Global Ministries of the Christian Church (DOC) and the United Church of Christ.
The dance ministers gathered, full of excitement and energy, from churches all up and down Chile forming a community of learning and healing at the Shalom Center to explore and embrace this call to usher others into worship.
Last year, I met the Rev. Jarda Alexander at the Global Ministries booth during the national Assembly. She was completing an internship with Global Ministries, and it didn't take us long to find out we had some things in common. She is a dance minister and I, in spite of two left feet and hands as graceful as bricks, have a passion for opening the space for young women to lead congregations into deeper worship through dance.
A year and half later, Pastora Jarda arrived in Chile and began a full week at the Shalom Center! She danced and preached in two congregations of the Pentecostal Church of Chile, led “Biblical Foundations for Dance” workshops, two at the Shalom Center and one at the Chimbarongo church, and she prayed, accompanied and encouraged the staff and participants during the entire dance retreat. Pastora Jarda preached on three occasions, and her sermons were carefully crafted for the very different congregations: City church, worship with young women, country church. During the workshops, she engaged the young women with her dynamic and expressive teaching style, eliciting a deeper reflection of the Word and connecting the texts to the experiences of daily living and liturgical dance.
As I was driving four of the participants to take the bus this morning at the end of the activities, I asked them what was the “pearl of wisdom or learning” that they would treasure for the rest of their lives after participating at the retreat and dancing in worship. One of the girls answered, without hesitation, “I will hold Pastora Jarda’s testimony in my heart forever. When she shared her personal story, I felt God affirming my call to be a dance minister.” Pastora Jarda blessed the young women every step along the way, and all this with her very limited Spanish! Her joyous smile, patience, interest in others and pastoral heart opened a doorway through the barriers of language and cultural differences that allowed for the free flow of the Spirit of God through her heart to touch the heart of others. She reminded the young women to: accept God´s abundant love, to find someone that they can trust and be that person someone else can trust, and to be open to new experiences (We are never too young or too old to learn something new!)
We believe that this week we have planted the seeds of peace in the lives of these young women, and that one day when the saplings have grown empowered by the joy of celebrating their relationship with God and the privilege of guiding into worship through dance, we will see a harvest of justice.
Pastora Viviana Muñoz
Director of the Shalom Center
Rev. Jarda Alexander
Elena Huegel serves with the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC). She serves as an environmental and Christian education specialist.