Dancing my way to God

  • Moving experience: Joyce Hayward will be ministering in dance at St John AME Church’s Women’s Day service with their group, Latreuo
  • Rev Dr Joyce Hayward

(Photograph supplied)
  • Rev Dr Joyce Hayward

(Photograph supplied)
  • Rev Dr Joyce Hayward

(Photograph supplied)

Find out what your spiritual gifts and talents are, then use those to make a difference in your home, workplace, church and community.

That is the word from the Reverend Dr Joyce Hayward, who realised in her early adult years how she could use her passion for dance to impact the lives of those around her.

From the time she was a little girl, Mrs Hayward knew dance was something that she loved and excelled at. She grew up attending a Catholic church with her family, but believed the two parts of her life were quite distinct.

Then one day in 1992, that all changed.

A friend invited her to attend a service at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, which had a vibrant dance ministry. Seeing first-hand how physical movement could be used to glorify God changed the trajectory of Mrs Hayward’s life.

“I had never heard of people dancing in church before. After visiting that church I fell in love with it — the people, the feeling and the vibe. I joined the dance ministry soon after and, because I had a background in dance and a natural gifting, and as I had always wanted to dance professionally, I ended up becoming a leader in the ministry.

“This was a 10,000-member church and the dance ministry went from being about five children to almost 200 children and youth.”

It was a rewarding role, however, Mrs Hayward began to feel a nudge from God to go beyond just teaching people dance. She believed dance was just an avenue to showing people how they could experience God through the movements and ministry.

“I always laugh at myself and say that God was telling me to go get a master’s degree, but I was supposed to choose the school on the other side of the street.

“So I obtained a Master of Fine Arts in dance from the American University. However, funnily enough, the Wesley Theological Seminary was right next door. You can walk from one school to the other. And after I finished at AU, I enrolled at Wesley.”

In 2003, she completed her Master of Divinity degree and in 2008 she received her doctorate of ministry with a concentration in the arts.

“I found that dancing was another way of teaching about Christ and sharing the gospel with people, just like preaching or evangelism,” she said.

“Through our dance ministry I was able to speak into people’s lives and teach them about God through the avenue of dance and the arts.

“I love seeing people’s eyes light up when they feel or see something that brings them closer to God or gives them a different understanding of His character. Usually the first time a person sees dance ministry their reaction is ‘wow’!

“It blows them away because they haven’t seen the Bible presented in motion before. We aim to tell a story through dance, so that people get a better understanding of the scriptures and the fullness of it. We are able to minister the scriptures such that it resonates in a way that people understand the song or message in a new way.”

Tomorrow, Mrs Hayward will be ministering in dance at St John AME Church’s Women’s Day service with their group, Latreuo. The theme, “Called to Make a Difference — Sistah’s Stepping Up”, is looking to inspire and encourage women to answer God’s call to leave a positive mark on the world.

Through their dance, Latreuo hope people will get to see the love of God and gain clarity on what they can do to influence their homes, workplaces and communities.

“We are not on this earth just for ourselves, but because we are called to make a difference and be different,” Mrs Hayward said.

“There are lots of ways that can happen and we are praying the dance ministry will bring that message to bear.”

The former Accountant-General now runs her own firm, Fusion4Business. She uses her professional Facebook page to share how Biblical principles apply to business and yesterday launched “Profit Freedom” on Facebook, which explains how to harvest profits for freedom in our businesses, lives and finances.

“A lot of us are bound because of money or lack thereof, but you shouldn’t have to be,” she said.

“We should see our money as a seed, and operate and view our businesses biblically in a way that allows us to have freedom — personally, emotionally or financially.”

For spiritual business tips and insights from Rev Dr Joyce Hayward, look for Fusion4Business LLC on Facebook