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Spiritual revival event showcases talented teens

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The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance holds its annual conference at First Church of God on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Attendees are invited to experience spiritual revival, take encouragement in the words of high-profile preachers and, maybe, bust a move.

A Hip Hop Summit is slated for 5 p.m. Friday at First Church of God, 3016 Collingwood Blvd., as a youth-oriented aspect of a conference that welcomes all ages and all denominations. Organizers describe it as a way to recognize and celebrate children, teens, and young adults in the broader context of the spiritual revival.

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Yirsi Verdin, 12, performs with El Corazon de Mexico Ballet Folklorico dancers. The dance troupe will perform during this week’s Hip Hop Summit.

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The Rev. Cedric Brock is president of the IMA and pastor of Mount Nebo Baptist Church.

“The Lord laid that on my heart to involve our youth,” he said. “We need a youth presence in our conference, and this gives the youth a platform where they can display their talent and put their Christian energy in a direction the faith community can see. They can be an example for those who want to start ministries.”

Expect praise dancers, hip hop performers, a cultural dance troupe, a step team, and a drumline. Organizers said each presents an opportunity for local youths to showcase their gifts and talents.

“There’ll be a special anointing in the house that night,” Pastor Brock said.

The Hip Hop Summit comes at the end of the three-day conference, which this year, its 12th, is themed “the church changing the city for Christ.” Pastor Brock estimated that the conference sees representation from 40 area churches and draws about 500 attendees each night.

A different preacher headlines each night of the conference: On Wednesday, it’s Bishop Pat McKinstry of Worship Center; on Thursday, the Rev. Otis Moss of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and on Friday, Bishop Michael Pitts of Cornerstone Church.

Each presentation begins at 7 p.m.

Representatives of Winebrenner Theological Seminary will be at the church for ministers’ workshops between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

A community partners luncheon at Warren AME Church, 915 Collingwood Blvd., kicks the conference off at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Admission to the conference is free and open to the public; no registration is required. For more information on the conference, contact First Church at 419-255-0097.

While youths are invited to head into the church for each night’s preacher, and while the older members of their church families are welcome to arrive early for Hip Hop Summit, Avery Cooper, a youth minister at First Church, said the Hip Hop Summit is specifically conceived for youth participants.

“The idea,” he said, “is to give them a platform to showcase their talents.”

The Hip Hop Summit is not explicitly religious. Attendees shouldn’t expect preaching between acts, for example, and participants are not limited to those who are affiliated with a church or faith organization.

El Corazon de Mexico is among those participants without religious ties.

Its dancers, who range in age from 6 to early 20s and who perform a wide variety of regional Mexican folk dances, are participating for the second year.

Director Elaina Hernandez said it’s a busy weekend for the dancers, who also have engagements lined up for Cinco de Mayo, but they prioritized the Hip Hop Summit.

“We wanted to make sure that we took the time to be a part of this event, even though it’s not a Cinco de Mayo-focused event, because it’s such a special event,” she said. “We want to share our culture with Toledo.”

My5tery Music, too, is participating without a specific religious tie. The performing arts program works with contracting local schools to introduce step teams, drumlines, and other performance outlets to students.

Director Errick Dixon said a drumline from Martin Luther King, Jr., Academy for Boys and a step team from Old West End Academy are expected to participate in the Hip Hop Summit.

Mr. Dixon, who himself is a member of First Church, said he thinks the summit is a positive opportunity for his young performers in that it introduces them to new genres of music and art.

Other summit performers will more intentionally present their dance or performances in a spiritual context.

Mr. Cooper said the Remnant, one of several praise dance groups at First Church, will be there to represent that church at the summit. Mount Nebo is expected to supply DIVAs, a group of praise dancers who range in age from 10 to 18, as well as a group of hip hop dancers who lend authenticity to the summit’s title.

Valecia Nurruddin, a youth adviser at the church, said a typical weekend service at Mount Nebo features at least one of several performance ministries.

The hip hop dancers tend to use the music of gospel artists with “an edginess that you would hear in mainstream music,” she said.

Think along the lines of Deitrick Haddon and Tye Tribbett.

“They utilize dance moves that the kids are using now, and they apply it to the gospel lyrics,” she said. “It’s something that other kids can relate and cheer them on while they’re dancing.”

Ms. Nurruddin, like others, said she sees the Hip Hop Summit as a positive opportunity.

“Not only do they minister,” she said, “but they are given a chance to encourage someone else or be encouraged.”

Contact Nicki Gorny at: 
ngorny@theblade.com 
or 419-724-6133.

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