ST. PETERSBURG — Miming is a centuries old art form that has captivated audiences for years. Without saying a word, a talented mime can create a minds’ visualization of non-existent objects and can communicate by using fluid body movements, interpretive hand gestures and facial expressions that convey emotions behind a mask of white.
In churches throughout the country the virtuosity and purpose of being a mime is to bring a spiritual song to life by creating the imagery and emotional meaning of that song to the parishioners.
“You don’t always have to say something to be heard,” said Jackie Ashley, half of the husband and wife-miming duo called Edifyd Praisers. Jackie, along with her husband DeVaughn, is also a part of the Dance Ministry at Bethel Community Missionary Baptist Church mime group, “Extreme Praise.”
The “Extreme Praise” troupe has nine members and is growing steadily. The Ashleys feel that their ministry can help to minister and touch the congregation.
“We are trying to convey every emotion to the audience,” DeVaughn said softly. He wants to expose not only the pain that the audience has endured, but to offer them happiness and encouragement through the experience of miming.
“The songs we use are what we are going through at that time,” Jackie said. “We want to turn a negative into a positive and our hearts have to be connected to the song.” Prophetic dancing is how Jackie describes miming.
Jackie and DeVaughn met at Dixie Hollins High School and have been married for six years. Both come from a family of pastors. Jackie’s mom is Pastor Dorothy Everett at Hope Ministries in St. Petersburg and her father, Walter Everett, was a gospel singer with the group Spiritual Consolators and passed in 2004.
“His entire family sang gospel music,” Jackie said. “My dad taught me to play the piano at three years old and growing up I was only allowed to listen to gospel songs.”
Devaughn’s father is also a minister. He is Reverend James Ashley of Total Agape Church, in Warner Robins, Ga.
Devaughn feels there is a distinct difference between praise dance and miming. “With praise dances they flow with the music, but with mime we’re bringing the song to life,” he said. According to Jackie there are no definitive steps and that sometimes people think that mimes use sign language, which they do not.
The Bethel Community Baptist Dance/Drama Ministry Groups are the Mime ministry, Extreme Praise, God’s little Sparrows ages 4-6, Angels ages 7 – 11, Agape ages 20-30, Seasoned Saints ages 50 – 88 and the Warriors of Praise (guys) ages 13 – 18.
The Dance/Drama Ministry is under the leadership of the dynamic Andrida Hosey and she praised Jackie and DeVaughn for their creativity and commitment to the Dance Ministry.
“First and foremost they love the Lord and they love each other,” Hosey said. “Jackie and DeVaughn is an anointed couple of God. They are a couple that is led by the sovereign spirit of our Lord. Their mime ministry has set the atmosphere and ushered many people into God’s presence. Through their ministry people have been delivered, healed, and strongholds have been broken.”
“It’s an encouragement to let loose and get closer to God,” DeVaughn said. “We want to allow God to use us to help people open up to Him.”
“We all have something special to give,” Jackie concluded. “The key is to use what God has given you. Do it in love and it will speak volumes.”