Praise dance featured at this year’s Christ Child Festival

| December 4, 2013

Christ-Child-festFORT WAYNE—With the change of venue for the Christ Child Festival to downtown at 431 W. Berry St., comes the opportunity to offer Christian dance groups on the auditorium stage of the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center on opening night.

The Christ Child Festival is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Dec. 6 in the auditorium with Tom Didier singing the national anthem, Mayor Tom Henry giving a proclamation and the Rev. Roger Reece, executive pastor of Associated Churches, giving a short opening devotion. “Witnessing the Glory of God” photo contest winners will be announced.

The opening service will be followed by the making of His praise glorious through the River Dance Company, a ministry of a Fort Wayne church, which seeks to glorify God through dance. The popular dance company with 5,000 likes on Facebook will be the first performance on the auditorium stage.

Several years ago, the founder and church leaders came to believe that dance could be used to worship God and the River Dance Company was born at Central Church, 5801 Schwartz Road. Dancers from age seven to adult will be involved in a variety of approaches from using sign language to flags. Forty-eight dancers in modest dress will perform to the glory of God.

Between dance groups at 7 p.m. Curtis Smith, chief meteorologist at 21 Alive News, who heard the call to mission in the Holy Land and joined HearCare, a local audiology clinic serving the hearing impaired in Israel, will offer his moving report. Smith shares his own reaction to seeing some of the most meaningful sites in all of Christendom, while being part of the group that helped children with genetic hearing problems gain hearing ability.

At 7:50 p.m. Restored to Glory Dance Ministry, founded 26 years ago by Peggy Alberda, will be featuring a group of their advanced students dancing to “Liberty” as choreographed by Kati Jones. The group name came as the result of the realization that dance should be given to God and “restored to His glory.” The individuals dancing during “Liberty” are a small representation of the ten local classes from our area that combined with a Michigan group led by Peggy’s sister, Ann Stevenson, form one of the largest Christian dance ministries in the nation. The group has gained a reputation for stirring the heart through song and worshipful dance.

At 8 p.m. Mariah Layne French, who started her career in Fort Wayne with early training at the Fort Wayne Ballet under the direction of Michael Tevlin, and at the North East School of Dance with Beth Scheibel, will be bringing X-claim Dance Company from Columbus, Ohio, to the auditorium stage. Founder, artistic director and choreographer, French earned her bachelor of fine arts in dance performance from Ohio State University. She also attended Ball State University and was a member of the Ball State Dance Theater. Mariah and her husband Phil founded Xclaim in 2007 as a faith based group. A special feature for this performance will be providing some aerial dancing. The Columbus Dispatch described the group performances as “big… bold… infectiously upbeat… spirited… strong choreography.”

While the auditorium stage is fully scheduled, the festival stage in the ballroom on the lower level will be featuring The Whitley County Dazzlers, MIMETime, the Woodburn Children’s Home choir and Bruce Malone—speaker from Search For The Truth.

The Whitley County Dazzlers, A special needs cheerleading squad won the Cheer Ltd. Nationals in Myrtle Beach in March. These girls with physical and intellectual disabilities will delight observers as they share a love of cheerleading.

MIMETime, a youth ministry of Church of the Good Shepherd in Leo, uses a unique form of communication—choreographed movement set to contemporary Christian music. The songs dramatize spiritual and life issues while giving hope in Jesus.

Throughout the 62-year history of the Christ Child Festival, children’s choirs have been important. This year, organizer say they are fortunate to have the Woodburn Children’s Home choir as a part of the opening evening.

If you miss hearing Bruce Malone, from Search for the Truth speak at 7:30 p.m., on the Festival stage, you have an opportunity to hear him at 5:10 p.m. Saturday or 12:15 on Sunday. Malone, a chemical engineer who worked for 27 years as a research leader for Dow Chemical Corp., seeks to awaken hearts and minds to biblical truth through presentations and literature distribution. Search for the Truth Ministries’ goal is to place scientifically based biblical creation materials in the hands of one million people.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 6, and going throughout the festival noon to 8 p.m., Dec. 7 and noon to 5 p.m., Dec. 8, the outstanding Christian theatre company “all for one productions, inc” will be providing the Living Nativity. There are also over 60 exhibits, some of which are interactive and fourteen of which feature activities and/or crafts for children.

When arriving at the festival, stop by the Lutheran Networking Group booth on the main floor to reserve a time to have your family videotaped for a Christmas greeting appropriate for sending to family/friends.

Other talent will be shared on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8. A full schedule is available by going to

There is no admission fee to the festival, but guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Associated Churches Food Bank.

Free parking is available in the lot directly across the street from the PAC. On-street parking is free during festival hours.

For more information about the festival, visit

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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