Temple church integrates its message into circus lessons

  • Jackie Davis and Pastor Johan Green practice juggling in front of the Temple Congregational Church. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jackie Davis practices juggling in front of the Temple Congregational Church. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/3/2019 11:02:01 AM

At first glance, a church congregation and a circus troupe may not appear to have that much in common, but according to members of the Temple Congregational Church both focus on concepts like building community, fostering cooperation and spreading love.

That’s the idea behind the monthly ‘Circus Sunday School’ and the upcoming Christian Children’s Circus Camp hosted by the Temple Congregational Church.

It’s a homecoming for circus teacher Jackie Davis, who ran her Silver Linings Circus Camp out of the Temple Church for a decade. However, creating a circus program specifically for a faith-based program is a first for her.

The Circus Sunday School, which has been running monthly since February, incorporates the sermon message into a circus skill. For example, a recent Sunday sermon centered around being one through Christ, with no one person more important than the other.

“I heard that, and went, ‘Bing. That’s a pyramid,” Davis said in a recent interview. Differences in size may require you to fill a specific role in the pyramid – as a base or at the top – but each role is important, and taking one person away will cause the pyramid to fail.

“Circus is used to bring the message in a totally different way,” pastor Johan Green said.

Davis will be expanding that idea for a four-day intensive circus camp this summer, also sponsored by the church. Children from ages 6 to 11 will put together a show based on a Biblical parable.

“For example, Noah’s Ark is a very familiar, very friendly parable, that ends with a hopeful message, a promise,” Davis said.

Davis was volunteering with the church’s music program when Green learned that she specializes in teaching circus skills to children and he knew he wanted to bring her teachings into the church setting.

“The circus teachings are the same, because the circus is the circus is the circus,” Davis said. “But in non-secular circus programs, we weave a story or theme into the final presentation. We can still do that here.”

“One major common denominator between the church and circus is community building,” Green said.

Davis said the creed of the circus is inclusively, and community circus, in particular, is non-judgemental and about having fun.

“In the circus, the bottom line is joy. The mechanism to getting to the joy is the work. And in the end, you have something you built together – it’s a real-time lesson in working cooperatively,” Davis said.

There are still spots available for the Christian Children’s Circus Camp, which will run from June 24-28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $100 per child, or $60 each for families enrolling more than one child. In cases of financial hardship, contact Kristen Genest at kristen@templecc.org to discuss scholarships.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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