“It was a prompting from the Lord. We wanted to expose people to the Christian arts, how they are legitimate and valuable while also being a form of worship.”
Ginger Strickland began Rejoice! Dance Ministry in 1993 and used those words to describe its early stages. Thankfully, her words remain accurate in describing the ministry today, more than two decades later.
It began as a single liturgical class with high school students. Their goal was to get out in the community, bring the gospel to people who aren’t in church, and offer those in church more opportunity to worship The Lord.
“We saw people come to know the Lord,” Strickland said. “Rejoice! was a seed-planter. We brought new students who didn’t know the Lord into the studio where they could learn.”
“Our passion and heart when we started the studio was to reach out to the community and Rejoice! was a tool in accomplishing that,” she said.
Strickland shared how encouraging it was to see God moving through the ministry from the beginning.
“There is so much fruit! That is very fulfilling and I’m grateful for that, it is so rewarding. My goodness! Look at most of the instructors at the studio now – they were students at one point,” she said.
One of those students, Heather Zachary, has since stepped into Rejoice!’s leadership role.
“Rejoice! focuses on raising up new spiritual leaders in the church and performing arts world, teaching the true meaning and power the gift of dance has, and how to hear and obey the Holy Spirit’s call to be used as His instrument,” Zachary said.
It’s been 24 years since its inception, and the ministry continues to provide young women opportunities to experience God through dance. Zachary said Rejoice! strives to give a clear Biblical message through the art of dance.
The verse John 4:23 specifically inspires her choreography. It states, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”
Worshipping in spirit and truth is Zachary’s desire for each piece the ministry produces.
Sometimes the choreography stretches the participants to their physical limit. No matter the amount of exertion, however, all pieces bring opportunity for worship to the audience as well as the dancers.
“A lot of times the movements may be remedial to the advanced Rejoice dancers but they understand the mighty power which is behind it when they give their whole heart and emotions for it’s message,” Zachary said.
Looking back at the past few decades at her time as a Rejoice! member under Strickland’s tutelage, Zachary shared how she has seen God moving in the arts.
“In the mid 1990s God created a great restoration of dance back into the church body,” she said. “Satan had tainted the thought of dance in the eyes of many churches for several decades.”
Zachary said God’s desire is to restore the same spirit of worship like that of David’s tabernacle where constant, uninhibited worship continued all day and all night. She sees a parallel between the time of King David and today, referencing Acts 15:16-18:
“After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.
“At the time we did not know His mighty restoration of dance was taking place in churches all across the United States from 1993 until today,” Zachary said. “I am so honored that Rejoice! was a part of that restoration in many churches and in many different denominations throughout North Carolina.”
“The restoration of David’s tabernacle is the restoration of kingdom worship and authority,” she explained. “As the church learns and flows in the proper order of kingdom worship and authority we will see the fall of Babylon (this world’s system). We will see the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God. So when Christ returns to deliver the kingdom to the Father, He will have found us faithful. Then we will hear those words, ‘Well done my good and faithful servants.’”
Zachary said the desire to be used and guided by God sets Rejoice! apart.
“Although we do strive for excellence and to achieve our full potential in our art form it is not our main focus,” Zachary shared.
It’s a sentiment true since the early stages of the ministry, and will remain true as this new season begins to take shape.
“We believe the more our instrument is tuned, practiced, and played the more masterpieces He can create.”
By Rebekkah Kemp, Line and Features Producer at Christian Broadcasting Network and former Rejoice! member