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TAP: ‘God spoke to me through dance’

10 April 2015

BY THE time she was 13, Katie Lawrence had been to 13 different schools. Her father was in the RAF; so the family travelled a lot. Katie was born in Cyprus, but it was during a posting to England, when she was ten, that the whole family (Katie has a sister) came to faith at the same time. It was what Katie describes as "a time of soul-searching": her uncle had been killed in the Falklands War, and her mother's stepfather had recently died. They started attending the Anglican church on the RAF base, and Katie attended a summer children's camp.

Back in Cyprus, she took up ballet; at the age of 12, she came to England to audition for ballet schools, and won not only a place, but also a grant to fund her training. Boarding provided stability; and she joined the school Christian Union. At the age of 14, she was babysitting for an American family who showed her a video of a dance production organised by Youth With a Mission (YWAM): "It was the first time I had seen Christians performing professionally. It alerted me to the possibility of using dance and my faith together."

Seven years later, via the same American family, she contacted the director of the YWAM production and sent him her CV; by chance, he was about to come to London, where he auditioned her.

Katie joined the company in time to embark on a 21-city tour of the US, in a production based on the story of Jim Elliot, the American missionary to South America who was murdered in Ecuador, and Dayuma, the indigenous Auca woman who helped him, and whose work eventually led to the conversion of her tribe.

The tour was to support the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators: the proceeds from performances in each city funded the translation of the Bible into a specific South American language.

It inspired Katie to wonder about joining Wycliffe Bible Translators herself, and becoming a missionary; but, in the mean time, she went on working in dance, spending a few years with a Christian dance company, and becoming an animateur for the Rambert Dance Company. When she married Matt, they moved to a small village in Hampshire, and started attending the local church, "becoming embedded in the local community". They now have three children.

Katie was particularly involved in building links between the church and local community groups; it was in the course of one such project that "God spoke to me whilst I was dancing in Winchester cathedral; and again in Norwich."

The call to ordination is "about how I can make myself more available"; and the contribution from the TAP Fund is "a massive affirmation".

Katie has started her own performance group, which meets after morning prayer on Fridays, and even has occasional evening use of Durham Cathedral. She finds that dance "is a way of meeting a lot of undergraduates without faith".

With no idea yet of where she will serve her curacy, but a conviction that the relationship with her training incumbent is more important than geography, Katie is "secretly hoping for a combination of pioneer ministry with something more mainstream or standard - enabling people to access Jesus in a different way.


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