By Courtney Price
the Durham VOICE
“We don’t want people to see us; we want people to see God through us.”
That’s what Shihana Chavis said is most important about her experience with mime ministry at No Greater Love Christian Church.
“It’s not about us,” she said. “We literally get lost in our relationship with God.”
Miming has become a popular form of expression and worship in black churches across the nation.
“From what we know, two brothers called K&K started the miming in church,” Chavis said.
K&K, twins Keith and Karl Edmonds, were fascinated by miming and used it as a form of expression to comfort them as they moved from one foster home to another in Pittsburgh. No Greater Love Christian Church is just one of many churches that now have a Mime Ministry because of K&K.
When they mime, Chavis said they usually wear simple black pants and a solid color shirt. In the tradition of miming, they cover their faces with white makeup and wear white gloves. The white accentuates movements and expressions.
Many of the movements they make are set, but sometimes there are movements that are more personal. Because those movements are personal, they don’t want them to look practiced.
“It’s like, when you hear that part, what does your worship look like?” Chavis said. “Part of it has to be very exaggerated and feels strange.”
She also said that the mimers are some of the quietest people in the church.
“We tend to be more on the introverted side,” she said. “I think since we are so quiet, it means we feel things deep inside.”
Miming, she said, is like putting on a mask.
Marcus Anderson, 21, of Durham, is the leader of the mime group. He agrees that miming is not like performing.
“I’m a quiet dude, but when I come in front of God’s people, I’m very serious because I know some people come in broken and discouraged,” Anderson said.
Chavis said that miming is not about performing, but ministering.
“We don’t perform because “performing” has a connotation that we’re entertaining,” she said. “We put movement and emotion behind gospel music, which brings a deeper meaning to the music.”
She said miming is just another means of expression. While some people sing, and others shout in church, Chavis and Anderson mime.
“I have something in me that I want to get out,” she said.
Anderson leads both the adult and the youth mime ministry at No Greater Love.
“I teach them it’s not about you,” he said.
Chavis said that Anderson works to teach the children to be humble.
“I think the great thing with him as a leader is that he teaches them that it’s about giving praise to God,” Chavis said.
Music is a key part of the ministry, and choosing what to use doesn’t happen on a whim.
“I usually pray and ask God what He wants me to use,” Anderson said. “I let God use me to choose the song.”
I worship with the music at home and feel the movements, then I take it to the church to teach it,” he said.
No Greater Love Pastor Arlene Chavis said Anderson’s miming deeply affects the congregation.
“He is normally a quiet and shy person, however, when he mimes he transforms from that shy person into a bold and confident man of God; determined to spread the message of Jesus,” Arlene Chavis said.
Shihana Chavis said that miming is a big responsibility.
“We just want to do God’s work,” Shihana Chavis said. “It’s creative and passionate, and it takes work and commitment.”
“We’re getting people ready to talk to God,” she said.
From left to right, Chris Stewart, Marcus Anderson, and Shihana Chavis mime in front of the congregation at No Greater Love Christian Church. Brad Piland filmed on Sept. 27.