Integrating Sacred Dance into Worship/Spiritual Communities

By JoyBeth Lufty

Many have experienced their most connected feelings of oneness with God, the Divine Source while watching and moving through Sacred Dance. Sacred Dance is movement that connects us directly with the Divine Creative Source, with the LOVE energy available to us all. Dance is this world’s oldest form of prayer. Every religion and spirituality has at least a past, if not present, where movement was/is transformed into awareness and connection with the Divine Source.

Dance has been studied for years, and what dancers have intuitively known and experienced has been confirmed. Dance is therapeutic, physically, emotionally, spiritually healthy, and uplifting for us. It helps us to stay clearer and smarter intellectually. It also allows us to connect with others and our deepest selves. It is a straightforward way to experience and share the energies of oneness, the spirit of love.

There are four different ways that we can integrate dance in a sacred or spiritual practice into our current worship and spiritual communities:

  1. You can add simple yet inspirational movements to the music sung by choirs and singers that the people watching and listening can also do.
  2. Teach everyone “Body Prayers” to dance where they stand and sit.
  3. Form a Sacred Dance Group or Movement Choir that offers choreographed dances to accompany the community’s service themes. Sacred Dance experiences can also come from other local Sacred Dance Groups for special occasions.
  4. Host and support different Sacred Dance classes and events for a worship/spiritual community.

Inspirational Movements

Inspirational movements added to the songs by singers and choirs in sacred celebrations or services enable the audience or congregants to relate to the song’s messages and emotions on a deeper level. These movements are symbolic of the words or messages being sung or played and are usually reasonably simple yet profound in their motion and emotion. Therefore, they are easy to add and do not require any added cost or persons to implement and integrate.

Body Prayers

Body Prayers are a form of Sacred Dance that helps us express ourselves more fully by using our body, voice, and inner thought to connect directly with The Divine. They combine physical movement and gestures with spiritual significance, meditation, rhythm, and repetition. A leader usually teaches everyone participating in and attending the service, both the movements and the words/songs.

Most religions/spiritual practices have Body Prayers. Many newer ones being created these days use words that are inclusive for all, such as “A Circle of Love Surrounds Us.”

Sacred Dance Groups

Sacred Dance Groups have a dance leader to choreograph and teach Sacred Dance, and two or more dancers are an inspirational addition to any worship or spiritual service/celebration. The Sacred Dances can be theme specific. Often working with the choirs, musicians, and singers (or specially chosen musical recordings), Sacred Dance Groups require some funding for particular dance outfits, music, practice, and performance space and props. The leader usually comes from the congregation as a volunteer or paid Sacred Dancer to organize, coordinate, choreograph and teach. Other Sacred Dance Groups from the larger local community can also be invited to share their Sacred Dances to fit in with the seasonal and specific weekly themes.

Sacred Dance Classes and Events

Sacred Dance classes and events held outside the regularly scheduled services are organized and supported by a worship/spiritual community. Classes can be a way to provide some financial support for its Sacred Dance programs as well as encourage congregants to include Sacred Dance in their own regular individual spiritual practice. These classes can consist of teachers from the congregants, outreach to the larger community, and many forms of Sacred Dance such as Conscious or Ecstatic Dance, Yoga-dance, Tai Chi, Circle Dances for Peace, Body Prayers, Sufi Dances, Christian Liturgical Dances, and dances from other cultures and religions.

As Gerardus Van Der Lewiv, in Sacred and Profane Beauty: The Holy in Art, reminds us: “There was a period when art and religion stood so close to each other that they could almost be equated. Song was prayer, drama was divine performance, and dance was magical-holy-powerful accompanying and stimulating all the processes of life.”

Our modern world seems to be opening back up to the sacred in dance and, indeed, really needs The Divine Dance to be once again integrated into our communities. Is there a better fit than in our worship/spiritual communities of love? 

JoyBeth Lufty, or drjoy, President of The Sacred Dance Guild 2009-2013 and a Movement Minister with a Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality, delights in consulting on how to integrate Sacred Dance into the Worship/Spiritual community and can be contacted at

You can access much information and many resources on Sacred Dance through The Sacred Dance Guild’s website.


A Sunburst of Glory

By Mary Louise Bringle

Rewarded with Holy Grace

Tune By McKee

Lyrics & Arr. Reverend Cliff Aerie

Trenny Responses

By Tom Trenney

Finlandia - Hymnbook

By Jean Sibelius

Finlandia  - Piano

By Jean Sibelius

Arr. WWL

Finlandia - Organ

By Jean Sibelius

Arr. WLW


This Celtic wheel cross is a form of Christian cross that emerged in Ireland, France and Great Britain in the Early Middle Ages. It became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries.

This cross is not to be confused with a variation that was appropriated for use as a symbol of white supremacy. The symbol is vastly used by non-extremists in contexts such as Christianity, neo-Paganism, and Irish patriotism.

Back to top

Worship, Music & Ministry is a publication of the United Church of Christ Musicians Association, Inc. and is issued three times a year. The journal is distributed to members of UCCMA as a benefit of membership.

All correspondence concerning membership in UCCMA, changes of address and other inquiries should be addressed to the United Church of Christ Musicians Association, P.O. Box 370631, West Hartford, CT  06137.

Information about the United Church of Christ Musicians Association is available at

Copyright © 2023 by the United Church of Christ Musicians Association, Inc.


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software