EARLY CHILDHOOD TO ADULTHOOD
Aventer Gray, born Aventer Cotton, is the daughter of A Y and Bonnie Cotton and the youngest of four children. Growing up, Aventer placed first in many pageants and oratorical competitions and she also sang lead in her church’s children’s choir and acted in plays as well. She held offices for her youth groups and throughout her middle and high school career. Her leadership was evident throughout her childhood in Dothan, Alabama. God was showing early glimpses of the glory that would later manifest out of this gifted little girl. Aventer graduated with honors from Northview High School and went on to receive her Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Cardiopulmonary Science from the prestigious Florida A&M University. Additionally, she earned a Master’s degree in Health Service Administration from Strayer University. Aventer has multilayered talents with expertise in healthcare and a plethora of performing arts. Of the many gifts God bestowed upon Aventer, her prevailing passion is Dance. Aventer has relocated multiple times through her life as her passion, God’s calling, and education has guided her, but she is so proud to represent her hometown of Dothan, Alabama wherever she goes.
Aventer’s mission for dance is to bring glory to God through marrying the technical aspects of dance with the spirit filled expression of the word of God. She began her dance training at age 3 at the Dothan School of Dance, in Alabama; under the directorship of Tracy Solomon, she studied ballet, jazz, modern, pointe, acro, & African. As a teen, she joined the Southeast Alabama Dance Company and Performance Team where she participated for 5 years and collected many awards from the New York City Dance Alliance and Dance Masters of America, Chapter #33. Aventer started a teaching apprenticeship at 13 at Dothan School of Dance; she began her first dance ministry at age 14 “Expressions of Joy”, and later took over a collegiate ministry, “Vessels of Virtue,” in 2003 at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, FL. In 2005, she co-established a faith-based dance ministry , “Divine Praise, that is still flourishing today. Aventer continued her teaching and leadership in Atlanta for 6 years at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, while simultaneously delivering conferences, teaching summer camps, dance intensives, and after-school programs through YMCA around the city.
She is currently the Founder and Director of The Reign Dance Company that hosts conferences, master classes, and ministry guidance classes throughout the country. Her vision behind The Reign Dance Company is to bring forth inspiration, hope, purpose, and life to communities using dance as a vehicle for healing. The Reign Dance Company is comprised of people that she has met throughout the past 16 years of her dance journey. They all share the same heart, to take meaningful training and foundational biblical principles, and marry the two. The company strategically trains and seeks to reshape thoughts about dance as a form of worship in ministry.
MINISTRY AND FAMILY
It is through her passion of dance that God has opened doors and introduced her to the love of her life, John Gray III. While serving in ministry, Aventer met a young man of God who was ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ across the country, John Gray III. The found beautiful common ground immediately and after a year of friendship and courtship, the young man proposed. Aventer Cotton became Mrs. John Gray III. God has blessed the Gray family immensely. John and Aventer have two children, John IV (Four) and Theory Aspyn-Sky (TuTu). Aventer currently serves alongside her husband, Pastor John, who is an Associate Pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. At Lakewood Church, she is the Director of the Lakewood Dance Ministry. Under her vision, its functionality is that of a dance school that is open to ages 4 to 100 and offers technical classes in various dance genres, incorporating biblical principles and studies within. In addition, Aventer is a guest speaker in multifarious ministry events. She often speaks for the Women’s Ministry, Marriage Ministry, Youth Ministry, Young at Heart Seniors Ministry, Singles Ministry, and Internship program at Lakewood Church. Serving with her husband is dear to her heart. Aventer feels she has a mandate to share authenticity and transparency in her experiences to bring glory to God. She speaks nationwide participating in conferences geared toward women, youth, and marriage. Aventer is available to outside ministries and churches, community service organizations, and anyone else God sends her to.