Celebrating International Christian Dance Week - May 2020
features Mary Jones, Founder and pioneer of Christian dance 
Mary Jones, OAM  
Vision and leadership in CDFA 
Mary Jones set up the ICDF Foundation over 10 years ago to promote and recognise Christian dancers and raise money for dance projects worldwide.  Here is a tribute to Mary’s life work from the Board members to mark her 80 th birthday. 

“Mary was always a calm and humble leader who let other people shine,” says Bruce Dennis.  Rod West adds, “Mary’s ceaseless energy and enthusiasm for numerous, ambitious dance projects has never ceased to amaze me.”

Christian Dance Fellowship Australia (CDFA), a seminal dance organisation, was founded by Mary Jones in 1978.  At its height, CDFA had a diverse membership of over 500 people from all states/territories of Australia. Mary birthed and led CDFA for twelve formative and challenging years taking it from a fledgling bunch of dance enthusiasts, when dancers were ‘strange beings’ in the church, to an organisation that held regular and well-attended national and later international conferences, attracting hundreds of people worldwide.  

CDFA was pivotal in providing authority and respect for Christian dancers – as worshipers and dance practitioners, teachers and performers.  Mary valiantly and consistently argued that dance can be a legitimate expression of Christian faith and a suitable pursuit or profession for a Christian. She shared from Scripture the role and use of dance for praise and celebration and devoted her life to restoring dance and dancers to a more respected place within the church community.  This work also affirmed the status of women as innovators and leaders within the context of ministry. 

Mary encouraged unity and respect for all denominations and traditions of Christian expression. Rebecca Jeavons recalls that we would often prayer for unity of the church. “The conferences were very respectful of different Christian traditions, as well as being exposed to diverse ways of doing things. We all had to grow and appreciate each other,” remembers Jenny Dennis.  “This was fun at times challenging- sbut helpful in sorting out our own biases and preferences.

Mary’s work celebrates community dance – in particular, Hebrew and Messianic community dance- as a means of understanding the Old Testament and building ties with the Messianic and Jewish communities. 

She is also a champion for the Indigenous community, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian community and their role within the wider church community.
Pioneer and practitioner 
Mary is a great pioneer and ambassador for Christians using movement to express Christian faith and worship.  Rod recalls many conversations with various people from Sydney who had little understanding of Christian dance until Mary came to their church and shared a movement piece. No one has come close to matching what Mary has achieved in this field.”

Jenny also remembers working with Mary as a young dancer with Prepare Dance Group in the early 1980s’. “It was formative time for me working with Mary in Prepare Dance in the day-time, learning steps and developing new dances suitable for a church setting, and then hurrying home to organise the next national conference at night.  With a small child on one hip, I was being stretched physically, spiritually and creatively in every direction all at once, and I loved it! Mary has been a great role model and mentor.” 

Director of CaraMayan 
In the last decade Mary focussed on developing a movement meditation practice called CaraMayan, as a way of developing a scriptural basis for meditation, relaxation or exercise. Corinne Urquhart says "the CaraMayan mediations were a wonderful way of being grounded deeply in the word of God through movement.  The insight put into each meditation is very special. I very much appreciated working wth Mary on filming and producing the DVDs. Robert and I look back on many wonderful and funny occasions composing music and producing DVDs. Wonderful memories! " 

Constant travel 
Rod concludes, “Mary has taught us many things over the years, but she has no idea how to ‘slow down’ herself. I stand in awe at anyone (including her travel agents) who have helped Mary carry out her often unexpectantly complicated endeavours.  I have been amazed when she has returned from an overseas trip to teach Christian dance, with stories of great blessing in the work of the Lord, interspersed with many tales of missed flights and stranded luggage. In the telling, Mary has always been full of praise for the constant provision of the Lord and near misses!”

In the early years of CDFA, Rod also recalls that whenever Mary discovered that someone from Australia was heading overseas, a few copies of “God’s People on the Move”, a practical manual she wrote in the 1980s on simple congregational dances was crammed into spare luggage.   
Peter Jones her suporter 
Sally Torr remembers how important Mary’s husband Peter has been to CDFA and his constant support of the expansion of ICDF. He was a huge fan and constant supporter of Mary and her life work. He activity supported her many trips overseas and the steady flow of international dancers that visited their house in Balmoral.  Their children got used to the expanded household of dancers that joined their events and we thank them for their generosity in sharing their mother with us.  Peter was always interested in supporting youth and in his memory the Peter Jones Youth Award was set up in his memory by the ICDF Foundation. 

Recognition and Awards
Mary became an ordained minister through AFCM Global (Agape Fellowship of Ministers and Churches) and her work has been also formally recognised in Australia with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for contribution to the Arts through Dance. Mary is the first ordained minister to receive an OAM due to her contribution to  Dance in the church. 
Happy Birthday Mary 
We praise God for your life and witness to the Lord and your tenacity and faithfulness to serve the Lord.  As Susie Bond sums up, “Mary is inspirational. Her work and support for Christian dance has been ground -breaking and she has always pointed us to God! Love and best wishes for continued blessings from the Foundation. “
Board Members of the ICDF Foundation : Jenny Dennis (Chair) , Rod West (Deputy Chair), Bruce Dennis, Susie Bond, Sally Torr, Rebecca and Mark Jeavons
Mary Jones Turns 80 
M – Mother of Christian Dance
A – Appointed and anointed leader
R – Righteous and redeemed in Christ
Y – Yes, Jesus loves her
J – Jesus is her Lord and Saviour
O – Obedient and open to the Lord’s calling
N – New ideas aplenty
E – Energetic explorer and educator
S – Selfless and stalwart in steps of faith
By Rebecca Jeavons
Rebecca is a new Board Member of ICDF Foundation
with a long-standing association with CDFA and ICDF as a dancer and administrator. 

Happy Birthday Mary ....from the ICDF Foundation 
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About the ICDF Foundation
The ICDF Foundation supports the International Christian Dance Fellowship (ICDF) in its aim to serve the movement arts in ministry and mission in a visible, available and relevant way by:
·       recognising excellence in Christian Dance/Movement ministry; 
·       raising money for scholarships/special projects;  
·       promoting Christian dance/movement internationally. 

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Our contact details are: 
Australia 0413 449 032
International + 61 413 449 032

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