NORMAN — African natives will come together for an annual ecumenical Christian gathering that combines ministry, praise and dance.
Christiana Aggreh, of Norman, said women of the African Christian Fellowship will host their annual Praise Party at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Riverside Church.
Aggreh, 52, said the gathering will include guest preachers Babatunmishe and Ayodele Oke, and music will be provided by evangelists Jerone and Pamela Lee. The event theme is “Simply Jesus.”
Aggreh said members of the fellowship look forward to the gathering all year because it is an opportunity to talk with friends from across the metro. And a big part of the party is the African dancing that takes place after the preaching.
She smiled as she described the enthusiastic traditional African dances performed by women wearing their colorful traditional African headwraps, African buba style dresses and other traditional garments.
“Everybody looks back on what God has done for them and they just dance,” she said. “They have reasons to praise God.”
African Christian Fellowship USA, based in Hyattsville, Md., was formed in 1977 as a way to bring Africans from all Christian denominations together both in the United States and in the African diaspora. The Oklahoma chapter is based in Norman.
Aggreh said the organization originally started as the African Christian Student Fellowship but evolved to its current form after African students graduated from their respective American colleges and permanently dissimilated into communities across the U.S. or returned to their native land. Aggreh said the fellowship has several projects aimed at helping African countries, and her Norman-based group has provided money for water wells and conducted medical mission trips.
Aggreh said she came from Nigeria to attend Oral Roberts University in Tulsa about 30 years ago. She said she earned a bachelor's degree from ORU and she has a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She said she connected with African Christian fellowship groups at both schools and those connections helped alleviate homesickness and became invaluable.
“They help you with tutoring, provide spiritual support and transportation,” Aggreh said.
Aggreh said between 75 and 100 people are part of the fellowship group that gathers in Norman. She said that figure does not include the numerous OU students who often attend fellowship functions.
Aggreh said about 500 people are expected to attend the Aug. 11 gathering. She said many non-Africans come each year and enjoy themselves, particularly those who have previously visited Africa. She said the public is welcome to attend the gathering.