This post has been adapted and from a story that originally appeared on crcna.org by Chris Meehan.
This summer, Michelle Loyd Paige traveled to Tanzania for the first time in her life. There, she used her gifts in liturgical dance to bless more than 550 pastors and church leaders from 17 countries who attended the Resonate-sponsored Theological Education in Africa Conference.
Loyd Paige regularly helps lead liturgical dance at Angel Community Church in Muskegon, Mich. where she also serves as associate pastor. So dancing at the conference three times a day for five days was not a scary proposition.
“In fact, I felt grateful for an opportunity to share my gifts with so many people,” she said.
She found the daily devotions to be inspiring and the African music and dance woven throughout the conference to be energizing.
Loyd Paige, who also serves as dean of diversity and inclusion at Calvin College, added, “the faith of the attendees was infectious. The physical location led me to wonder if this was what Eden looked and felt like—the lush foliage and monkeys playing in the trees outside my door fueled these thoughts.”
Loyd Paige said there was one moment that was unexpected and deeply moving — when Mwaya Wa Kitavi, chair of the event who also serves as regional ministry leader for east and south Africa for Resonate, called her and three other African Americans to the stage.
He invited them up there, she said, to “welcome us home” — and when he did that, she said, the people cheered, and tears filled her eyes.
"Many, many years ago my ancestors were stolen from the continent of Africa, not knowing if they would ever return,” said Loyd Paige. “They were enslaved in the U.S., and they wondered if they would be able to survive. Standing on the stage, I was able to bring them back home.”