Closer to God – Pausing, Praying, Encountering and Moving at our Soak events

Our Soak events have evolved over the past two years into a time where getting closer to God is essential, they can help to put a pause in your week and focus back on God.

What is a UC Grace Soak event?

In 2019 we launched our first soak evening. The Soak evening developed out of a need to offer opportunities to grow closer to God. Being specific about the time that we give to that. What began as an evening event in 2019, migrated into a morning event in 2020. Moving with the world situation, it migrated further to an online event during their biggest restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown.

We are now back to meeting face to face, yay!! Therefore, looking forward to the opportunity of seeking to deepen our relationship with God and grow closer to him.

Mel sitting with her hands out closer to God

Why should we set aside specific time to get closer to God?

Integrated within us, is a need to gather with others. By choosing to gather with others it can help us to recognise where we feel our relationship is with God. This allows us to not only go deeper looking at scriptures and praying for each other. But also the chance to dance with others whose hearts are simply to use dance to deepen their relationship with God.

Some people found it a bit indulgent having that chance to give ourselves some much needed ‘me-time’. But the world that we live in means that we need to give ourselves some time. Plus, God rested, and he calls us to rest to.

“for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4.10-11

Often we get wrapped up in what’s happening around us, running around after one thing to the next, but God wants us to pause, he wants us to soak in all that he has for us, and sometimes that means giving ourselves some self-care.

Encountering God and getting closer to God with hands palm up.

So what happens?

During our soak events there is no ‘set’ agenda other than to encounter Jesus. But there are four main things which we do to encourage that encounter and help people to make that connection throughout the course of the evening.

  • Pausing
  • Praying
  • Encountering
  • Moving

These four key things help us on that journey to deepen our relationship with God and ultimately get closer to him. We live in a world where things are changing daily. Routines which once were set have evolved into something different and will continue to evolve into something else. But the importance of putting aside time to draw close to God will always be there. That’s why I want to encourage you to give that time to yourself, to get closer to God.

Praying for others at a soak event to get closer to God.
Raising a flag in worship closer to God.

Here are some participants feedback on getting closer to God at a UC Grace soak event.

‘Space to move as well as utter freedom to be still for long periods introduced a new dynamic.’

‘Just enjoyed being free to move’

‘It gave me some focus time to spend with God’

Want to know more about our Soak Events, then head here.

Worship Dance Ministry – Five Reasons to join us on Tour

Well what an awesome start to the first ever UC Grace summer tour! Taking time to go and visit where you are, has been lots of fun. Plus a brilliant experience for my worship dance ministry. Here’s what we are doing during our tour sessions, some feedback from what we have done so far and how you can be involved if you can’t make any of the sessions left. There are still 5 sessions to go and we’d love for you to join us in Ipswich, Farnham, Nottingham, Leicester or Guildford.

Joining with others in your worship dance ministry.

It’s been a funny season, gathering online, speaking to each other on video and dancing on screens. Many of us are craving the opportunity to gather with others in person and ‘just be’ together. That was one of the primary reasons of how the crazy idea of the tour came about. There is only so much dancing we can do behind a screen, and with it still not being clear when we could gather in an indoor space. Outdoors was the next best option.

The tour has given me a chance to visit different areas, meet lots of new faces and catch up with those that have been on the UC Grace journey a while. Additionally, it has been a source of encouragement not only to those that attend, that they are not alone. But, also for me teaching, having the privilege to catch up, chat, teach and share stories in person.

We all felt we wanted to meet up again and dance outside for the joy of it, the witness of it, the community of it, and connection to God in it.

Tour participant 2020

 If you’ve been part of the UC Grace lockdown journey since the beginning you will know about the dancing army (you can read more here). The army that has grown in movement and dance exponentially since lockdown. The people that are choosing to claim their faith through dance and movement and stand firm in the conversation it creates with them, God, and with others. The tour is providing an opportunity for those people to gather in person and witness to those around them.

Exploring God’s word

Witnessing through the declaration of God’s word, out loud, outside. Two things that can be very daunting together. God’s word is an essential part of any workshop with UC Grace and any worship dance ministry After all, the Bible is our go to, our manual for life. So common sense would say that it needs to be our foundation about why we move, and what we can grow from. It also provides an excellent opportunity to take hold of the truths God has said.

Quote from worship dance ministry tour participant - I found the exercises that you set really helped me to explore spiritual truths in a new way and to not feel that I could only dance in public if it was all pre-rehearsed.

Each session of the tour has an over-arching theme – Grace for the Moment – based on 2 Corinthians 12.9. We then explore 3 different sub topics throughout the course of the tour – Sufficient Grace, Letting Gods power lead and Sharing our weaknesses. Each sub topic takes us back to the word each time. Ensuring that as we move and step out in dance and movement, we are doing it with God’s word as a stepping stone.

Break down fears using Worship Dance Ministry.

Dancing outside brings a different perspective to how you deliver a session and also how dancers interact with exercises and the space around them. I acknowledge that for many, dancing outside is uncommon. More often not done at all, due to the perception that you will be judged about what you are doing.

On tour my heart is for you to explore moving outside in a safe and supportive way. I provide a series of exercises that will guide you through stepping out in an outside space. Offering you the chance to explore both on your own and in groups. If you belong to your own worship dance ministry you could try doing too.

Freedom to be outside, looking at dance from different points of view

Tour participant 2020

Just like in my normal indoor session, participants do as much or as little as they are comfortable with. But those that have attended have shared how liberating it is to move outside, in God’s creation and worship.

Learning skills to Pray

Prayer is part of our communication with God, as dancers and movers often when words fail us movement takes over and allows us a chance to continue a conversation with God. I’m very passionate about equipping dancers with the skills and experience to prayer dance. To dance and move their prayers rather than speak them.

It gave me a process for dancing out a prayer for someone.

Tour Participant 2020

Each session will give one of those opportunities. The chance to pray for participants themselves and someone else using movement.

I was amazed how God spoke to me and how others responded to what I had to say.

Tour Participant 2020

This usually flabbergasted participants, how people who don’t know their story and what’s happening in their journey, dance a prayer for them. The result of what they shared was pin point relevant. Often seeing the physical result of a prayer can be emotional, so participants only share what they are comfortable with and talk about what they felt if they want to.

Happy Endorphins through moving outside.

Who doesn’t love happy endorphins? The ones that get released when there is just pure joy deep down inside! At each location we finish with a time of open worship, a time where you can just move, soak, reflect and do whatever you are led to do. It is during these times that often members of the public stop to see what is going on and simply observe. But because we are focused on God and nothing else, the presence of the public doesn’t hinder. It releases more and allows the Holy Spirit to do its thing!

I really enjoyed watching the other dancer’s worship

Tour participant 2020

One thing I teach regularly during my workshops is the understanding that dance is interpreted in different ways by different people. God made each of us unique, the reason that we may step out to dance, might be perceived differently to those watching. I encourage everyone to recognise, that as they are blessed by movement, others who see their movement are blessed too. That’s how movement moves mountains, it’s how the dancing army covers ground, as blessing, upon blessing is shared.

There are still spaces at all of the tour locations left –

  • Ipswich – Wednesday 5th August – 7.30pm
  • Farnham – Saturday 15th August – 9.30am
  • Nottingham – Saturday 22nd August – 11am
  • Leicester – Sunday 23rd August – 11am
  • Guildford – Wednesday 26th August – 7.30pm

Booking is essential, so please visit our Tour page for more information and to book. Can’t make any of the locations. Why not join us online for Prayer Dance Bites.

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join our worship dance ministry. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

10 Years Growing and Releasing Dancers

As I stepped out in January 2010 to begin work in schools and share with churches, I had no idea about the journey that God would take me on. I’ve learnt a lot along the way, it’s not always been easy, but God has been consistent and faithful throughout all of it.

That’s the most important thing that I hold on to, that God has always been there, he has carried the purpose of UC Grace, and I have tried to be obedient to that. Sure, I’ve made stumbles along the way, but my desire remains the same, to take people on a journey of a deeper conversation with God using dance and movement .

The further into 2020 we have gone, the clearer it has become, not only how important it is to be in relationship with others who desire to use dance and movement as their language to God, but also to encourage others to encounter dance and movement to deepen their journey with God.

Putting this video together, brought lots of memories back, so many different children and adults that I have had the privilege to teach, encourage, share, and grow in their journey. Sometimes that led to further dance, other times it acted as a stepping stone for them to continue on the journey that God has for them.

My prayer as I continue to grow UC Grace from 2020 onward’s, is that I will rest and lean into what God has planned. That pausing is okay, silence is okay, from out of the silence God will speak more boldly, more extravagantly. To have the courage to try new things, and trust God with the outcome that comes from them.

So whether you have been part of the UC Grace Journey from the beginning or you have joined us more recently. Enjoy the watching the video, where I share a bit more about the journey, relive some highlights from the past 10 years and share some testimonies.

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Keep moving and trusting in Jesus that the plan he has for you, is the one that you are destined for. God will get you there, you might want to take some twists and turns but Jesus will always been there, pick you up and carry you when needed.

Dance Collaboration – The Blessing

Who saw the UK Blessing video yesterday? It was great to see the unity in the church.

Myself (UC Grace) and Prinith (Movement in Worship Birmingham Base) have felt led to organise a UK Dance/ Movement blessing. We want people across different dance ministries, and individuals that simply have a passion for demonstrating their faith through movement, to join us in creating this blessing.

Dear Dancer

We’d love to invite you to take part in a UK project to draw Christian dancers together and create a blessing to people across the UK.

The Vision

To dance to the song The Blessing by The UK Blessing (original Kari Jobe) using this version – https://youtu.be/PUtll3mNj5U

Gathering the videos together we will compile it into video for everyone to share across social media and their networks. We want it to be an opportunity to display the vast ability of dancers, their heart to worship Jesus and share their faith through dance and movement. During covid 19 lockdown, dance places, workshops and performances may have been shut down, but a dancing army have continued to move in their homes and outdoor spaces as they feel led. Dance impacts more than we know and this presents a fantastic opportunity for many to gather and move for our God. Would you like to join us?

The details –

  • We plan to air the video on Sunday 17th May.
  • All video submissions need to be received by Sunday 10th May.
  • Videos must be recorded in landscape
  • Please do not wear any branded clothes.
  • Feel free to use banners, flags or other props
  • Please dance to as much of the song as you feel led to.
  • Ensure your ‘background’ is as clear as possible.
  • Send recordings to us via this link and select choose files – https://www.dropbox.com/request/RTzhgiAnwbrdlFO2l9Hh
  • Email birmingham@miw.org.uk with your name, location and dance organisation (if applicable).

We hope you can join us.

Blessings,

Anna (UC Grace) and Prinith (Birmingham Movement in Worship Base)

Dance Worship Weekend – what’s the big fuss?

As I’ve been gathering notes for this year’s dance weekend, I started to think about what it was that made people come on a weekend in the first place. Plus, I think it’s always good to remember where our roots are and why we do what we do! In the 9 years I have been running UC Grace, different groups, workshops, training and performances opportunities have evolved, some not even in my planning, but God has placed them in the pathway of UC Grace. At every event I marvel at how God brings it together, who he brings and the impact that the event creates in others. Let me take you on a very short journey of how the dance weekends came about and their impact upon myself and others.

How did it begin?

It began in 2013, when I first started to have discussions with other dancers about whether they’d either value a day retreat or a weekend away, and what it was that they’d see that time away being. Many of the participants at this point had been dancing with me from the beginning and I had watched them grow and develop and were eager for more. However, we all recognised that the odd 90-minute workshop just didn’t cut and we wanted something more! Going back over some of the responses from an initial survey I sent out, it is awesome to see how God has worked in it all.

Defining a weekend away

With just a handful of resources I took the plunge and stepped out to run my first dance weekend. I didn’t know the true amount of work it would take, the people it would bring or that it was just the beginning of many!

My heart was to provide a space that would enable people to grow in their dance worship movement skills, their relationship with God and build relationships and fellowship with others.

So how did it develop?

For that first weekend in 2014, my heart was hopeful that I would get to 15 participants, that didn’t happen. I could have let that disappoint rule how I went forward with my planning. However, God has spoken quite clearly since I began UC Grace that it is about the hearts of those that come to UC Grace events, not about the numbers.

That first year, I was blown away by how God moved, I changed the whole of my Sunday plan on the Sunday morning as I followed Gods lead. We took dancing out of our room and into the centre to bless others in the building, we crowned ourselves with Gods crown, and broke down walls that didn’t need to be there.

Treasure and Truth feedback
Feedback from Treasure and Truth 2014 dance weekend

We did this by standing on God’s word and letting scripture and God’s voice lead the sessions. Since then, that’s how the weekends have developed, God always goes first, even if I’ve spent a long time putting the plan together, because, His plan is the ultimate plan.

Since that first weekend, I always look with delight at the next weekend that will happen, at who God will bring to come and move and dance and grow, to explore what he lays on my heart and how I can help change people’s perspectives on themselves, their movement and their journey with God as my lead.

What’s the soul of the weekend?

This picture below, sums up the soul of the weekends perfectly.

Hugging embrace.
Dance Worship weekend 2018

They say pictures say 1000 words, they demonstrate what can not be said, that is so true. As you look on the outside looking in at this picture. You see a hug, a warm embrace between a group of friends. But what they don’t show you is the journey each of these ladies have been on over the weekend. It doesn’t show the struggles they’ve had to step out in, in their faith, it doesn’t show when times were really tough, it doesn’t show what God has said to them or how they have been taken on a journey.

This picture was taken at the last session of our 2018 dance weekend. We had just had a time of praying and dancing (so important that we do both of those things together), only the ladies in the picture really know what was going on in their journey at that point.

But for me it shows a freeze frame of friendship, support, love, prayer, journey and acceptance that they are letting God lead their journey.

WOW!!

What next?

UC Grace dance weekends have turned into a key fixture in our calendar, something for everyone to look forward to. When I ran my first one in 2014, I didn’t think people would be interested in a yearly weekend, and I began to arrange them bi-annually. It gave me time to develop other ideas and continue to grow other areas of UC Grace.

However, God has been gracious and given me opportunities to grow connections, build friendships and have the privilege to journey with others. I felt UC Grace was at a point where it now needed to offer those dancers and participants who had journeyed with it for nearly 10 years, another opportunity that would take them deeper on a more personal level. That’s where the Going Deeper weekend has come from. So my hope, over the coming years is to have a dance weekend every year, but the essence of the weekend will alternate each year.

Going Deeper will provide a smaller more intimate group to develop their dance worship skills and personal faith journey. Creative dance weekends will allow a larger number to gather in fellowship, experience dancing and learning from others, explore the use of arts and creativity alongside prayer and movement, and be a place to build friendships and generate a network that draws people across the country together.

Have you joined us on one?

Going Deeper 2019 is now fully booked, however we have just released the dates for our 2020 Creative dance weekend – 17th to 19th January. Why not join us, as we celebrate 10 years of UC Grace! Booking will open towards the end of June 2019, if you want to be one of the first to hear about when booking opens and grab the super early bird price click here.

Teaching Children Dance and Movement Round Up

Teaching children dance and movement exercise one.

What a fantastic day we had learning from each other. The day was split up into 3/4 sections, in each section there was a talk and discussion, an exercise in pairs to put into action what was discussed and then a time of delivery – so practising what they had just planned. Everyone had such different ideas, it was great to spark off each other and encourage those that felt a little shy.

Section 1 – warm up and ice breakers

This is a really important part of the workshop which I chatted about in the blog post 6 Essentials when planning a dance worship workshop. The challenge here was introducing a theme and working out how to devise a warm up based around a theme. The topic of water came up as a common one, but some participants soon realised that they weren’t sure which bit of water to focus on.

Water is a good example of a topic that has so much possibility for a workshop. It’s a key feature in the Bible, creation and our journey of faith. Ideas for inclusion in a warm up included –

  • Ice – freeze/ still movements leading to melting and then adding travelling motion in.
  • River – how the water flows in and around rocks, some of the children being rocks and others being the water that passed around them.
  • Waves – the crashing sound, being tall and small. Rolling on the ground and stretching wide. Spinning a partner out and then having them roll back in along their partners arm.

All the above areas of water can be expanded and padded out loads after the initial warm up. Remember the warm up is an opportunity to have fun, get everyone moving and introduce a small part of the theme.

SAMSUNG CSC

Section 2 – Planning an under 5s workshop. We looked at Psalm 18.28-33 for this section.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”

The sets of verses above provide some awesome imagery with which to design workshops and themes. We used this passage as a starting point thinking about a workshop for under 5s. Just a few things that came out of our initial discussion was:

  • Standing on a rock – strength
  • Light
  • Battle – warfare
  • Refuge
  • Like a travelling song
  • Perfection
  • Scaling a wall

Participants worked in pairs and looked at one section of the workshop plan (Read more about the 6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop here) putting together an outline of movements, before then teaching it to the rest of the group.

Section 3 – Choreographing a dance for 5 – 11 year olds

How many of you have the song ‘My Lighthouse’ in your church? There are several different actions that have been put to the words of this song – your church might already use some. So, I thought it offered an opportunity for participants to choreograph something that they could use within a workshop or group of children.

Working in groups we looked at the different verses and put together some movement. You can check out what we did below.


We begun the day by looking at why we want to invest in children, what the Bible says and the reasons that brought the participants to the dance day. As we finished the day we spoke about how we can encourage a conversation of prayer during the workshops by having some creative prayer exercises. That by demonstrating how to dance and make it a conversation with God, you can encourage each child to have ownership of their journey of faith and conversation with God.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

Do you need a soaking of the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes we just need to stop. Breathe. Pause. Say, ‘God I need you right now’, ‘please send more of your spirit’, ‘wrap your arms around me’.

Our new Soak events are designed to provide just that. An opportunity in the month to enter into Gods presence.

Although we all try daily to walk with Jesus beside us, there are always moments where life takes us down a different path, and we get to the end of a day, week, month and realise, those moments that we struggled through, were exactly the moments when God wanted to step into the breach for us.

My heart for the Soak events is a time to actively make the decision to draw deeper with Jesus and dwell in his presence. In 2 Timothy it talks about the need to nourish and support our faith, and it’s the Holy Spirit within us that can help us do that.

soak night scripture 2 Timothy 1.14

We can’t give out, if we are running ourselves on empty, taking the time to fill us up should be a priority.

What will happen at Soak events?

We’ll spend a short time welcoming each other and doing a warm up movement activity together. As well as reading through some scriptures to focus on during the session.

This will lead into an initial time of free worship, after which there will then be a creative reflection exercise for people to part take in if they wish, leading back into free worship.

There will be the opportunity to take part in some prayer movement if people wish, this will be led and guided by the event leader, depending on peoples strengths.

The rest of the evening we’ll see where the Holy Spirit takes us!

You can see our current dates for Soak Nights here.

Do I need to have had dance experience?

Absolutely not! Part of dancing and moving in your faith is the recognition that movements are tiny and big, so whatever you do, a foot tap, or hand raise, is still a movement.

Want to know more and be kept up to date with other events at UC Grace? Head here to sign up.

Living Colour Morning January 2019

It’s been an awesome start to our events this year, with our first Living Colour morning of 2019. Such a privilege to meet with all the dancers and spend time catching up.

Our focus during the workshop session was exploring Proverbs 3.1-8, by looking at 3 main sections, Gods teaching and foundation, his faithfulness and understanding when we are struggling and having help come around us.

There was a great conversation about verse 1, and the different interpretations in different Bible versions. One version talked about ‘storing’ commands not keeping them, which is an image of treasuring the things that God gives you.

In verses 3 and 4 we chatted about how we can forget the small things that God is faithful in, and that it’s important to remember them daily. Participants worked in pairs to pick 3 or 4 areas that they felt God was faithful in. They wrote these down on separate pieces of paper and placed them at staggered points across the space. Working with their partner they put those faithful things into a journey, what they realised as they danced and shared with others, was the importance of fellowship and being with someone as you share in your faithful journey.

Below is short film of Servina and Jane’s, and Caroline and Helen’s Faithful Journey.

Our next Living Colour is planned for Saturday 22nd June, you can check out the info here. But why not join us before that at one of our dance days.

Teaching Children | Dance and movement – 13th April.

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How important is advent to your family?

How often does Advent arrive and you feel like you weren’t ready for it, or you groan because that means that Christmas is going to sneak up really quickly and you still need to get x amount of things done first?

In an effort to be a bit more organised I started thinking about Advent in October! Yes October! But mainly because my daughter is nearly 4 and really clued in to what is going on and already talking about Christmas! I felt this year would provide a great opportunity to develop further some of the activities that I already do during the Advent season.

I really struggle with how secular advent has become, I feel you can get blind sided with all the ‘extras’ that seem to go with that time of year, particularly in the run up. God wants us to remember him in all we do and put him first, and that includes in amongst all the ‘extras’ that get thrown. So my questions to you, with December under 2 weeks away, how have you prepared for Advent? What is going to be your most important thing during the advent season? How will you celebrate it as a family?

For me, I identify that advent can be such an exciting time and an awesome chance to explore not only the Christmas story but also ways we can pray, interact and move on our journey with God. This year to help, I have identified 3 areas to form the basis of our Advent time – Celebrate, Create and Explore.

Celebrate – take a moment to find something specific to celebrate within our family, or something that Jesus did.

Create – make something that will enable us to learn more about an aspect of Advent, the Bible and the Christmas Story.

Explore – read a bit of the Christmas story and chat, move and go deeper with the themes from it.

I’m looking forward to writing some ‘kindness elves’ activities (there’ll be more on this in another post), making HOPE jars, dove mobiles, and prayer bunting! All to help inspire imagination and generate conversation in our family.

You can read some more ideas about how to explore advent as family from one of our free downloads, just fill in the form here. There will be a series of 4 available throughout the course of December.

Don’t forget that there is also our Family Advent Fun event on the 1st December.

 

Dance Weekend 2019 announcement

It is with much excitement that I can share with you the news that there will be a 2019 dance weekend!! This has been something I have been mulling over for a while, and this week took the plunge.

So save the date! We are doing to a new location, with a different format and will challenge you to go deeper and explore further. This won’t replace our ‘normal’ dance weekend that has been happening every other year, but is in addition.

Keep an eye for further information as super early bird booking will open this side of Christmas.