Hula: From taboo to prominence at worship

(Photo: Honey Maluyo)The youth ministry of the Jesus Christ Savior of the World (JCSWM) Church in Honolulu, Hawaii dancing hula.

A familiar soulful tempo fills the room. The front platform bursts with eight young people in a white shirt and blue sarong.

As the popular Hillsong United music starts to play, the young people moved gracefully in silence with only hands and feet in motion.

At a slow emotive pace, 16 hands ascend into the air to convey the song's lyrics that read, I see the King of Glory.

They are followed by foot and hip movements as the background music declared Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.

The audience, a congregation in a small church in Honolulu, breaks into blissful applause teeming with some inner spiritual experience.

Hula is a dance form developed by Polynesians in Hawaii. It has become a fixture in many Christian worship services in the state.

While hula enjoys prominence these days, it was once declared a heathen by the same institution that has propelled its prominence.

The dance form has become a basis of different ministries ranging from Hula Ministry to Hula Worship Team.

The Kihei Baptist Chapel in the island of Maui has its Hula Worship Team while the Kapaa Missionary Church in the island of Kauai has its Hula Ministry.

On the other hand, the Pacific Revival Center in Honolulu has its Performing Arts Ministry combining hula, praise and dance into one ministry.

For many present-day Christians in Hawaii, hula is a unique expression of worship.

The Hawaiian dance form's capacity to amplify stillness and pull off a serene and moving atmosphere comprises a distinctive congregational worship experience.

Dubbed as the language of the heart, hula has impacted both the secular and spiritual realms of the state.

From March 31 to April 6, a weeklong festival known as Merrie Monarch is to take place in Hawaii's Big Island.

Activities in the festival include art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, parade, and a three-day hula competition.

In the early 1800s, American Christian missionaries to Hawaii found the dance ambivalent to Christian virtues.

Members of the Hawaii's royalty and nobility then banned hula, and resorted to licensing as a form of control by mid-1800.

It was not until the reign of King David Kalakaua in the late-1800s that hula, once again, became a part of Hawaii residents' public life permeating the four corners of different houses of worship.

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