At First UMC Jacksboro, This Sacred Circle Won’t Be Unbroken
Microgrant funding from North Texas Conference helps First UMC Jacksboro launch New Faces New Spaces program for children
Jacksboro is a tight-knit town of around 4,500 people situated at the intersections of Highways 281 and 380. And while the population hasn’t changed much over the years, one noticeable difference caught Rev. Cassie Wade by surprise: a lack of midweek programming for children.
This past spring. Rev. Wade and others at First UMC Jacksboro began an intentional process of identifying the church’s visions and values for the next 3-5 years. Their initial focus became quite clear: to revitalize what had been a thriving program of impacting children’s lives that had laid dormant for the better part of the last decade.
Fast forward a few months to when Rev. Wade heard Dr. Leanne Hadley speak about “A Time for Children” at the North Texas Annual Conference, and Rev. Wade knew this was the right time to develop the church’s new undertaking. Thanks to a $1,000 microgrant from the North Texas Conference as part of its New Faces New Spaces initiative, The Sacred Circle – a joint venture between First UMC Jacksboro and The Parish (a local Disciples of Christ church) – came to be.
“We are set in a small-town community where the schools are the largest entity,” Rev. Wade wrote in her grant application. “The interaction between church and school is one of cooperation. In fact the church is invited into the schools not only to assist with classroom support activities, but also for spirituality and nurturing supportive activities; not only in times of support but times of enrichment.”
A pilot program of The Sacred Circle began during the summer and drew about 15 participants. Rev. Wade said it was encouraging to see that level of engagement and hopes to double that number by December. A lofty goal, she said, but the program ultimately will fill a void that has existed for far too long.
The program, under the direction of Jamie Flaniken, will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday nights beginning Sept. 5 at First UMC Jacksboro. Dedicated spaces in the facility will allow students in kindergarten through fifth grade to experience God through story and liturgical expression, via tactile experiences as well as provide spaces for play, prayer, fellowship and learning.
Rev. Wade has noticed a number of local families who don’t have a church home have come to First UMC Jacksboro as a result of their children taking part in the summer fellowship program. Providing that connection and the opportunity to continue making disciples is what The Sacred Circle and New Faces New Spaces is all about.
“We believe God is calling us to introduce God to children in our community who may not find acceptance and love in their everyday lives,” Rev. Wade said. “We want to provide for them a place where they can not only meet God, but will have an experience with God. We want them to know that they are a blessing to us, to their family, to their classroom at school, to their community and to the world.”
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2018