Jacinda Jones of Trinity, Arcadia, was a student in Pastor Will Stenke’s Diakonia class on Proclamation when she began to dream of a way to engage her community in a new way. For her final project, Jacinda was tasked with identifying the unique gifts and needs of her neighborhood and how she might use those elements to engage her neighbors. She imagined what it would look like to nurture a new community beyond the walls of her church, an exercise that Jacinda said, “helped me see my vision” for ministry “in a different way”.

Jacinda and her family are regulars at a local seasonal campground in Van Buren, OH, participating in the close-knit community that springs up every summer as folks set up their campers and return to relax together on the weekends. She realized that on Saturday mornings, there is a window of time before the pool opens that the kids of the campground typically get restless. Jacinda developed intentional programing to fill the 30 minutes; a bible story time, followed by a related craft and snack.

After presenting the plan for her final project, Jacinda applied and was awarded a 2021 Imagining Renewal Microgrant to begin the weekly activities, which she dreamed could be a “stepping-stone for building community at the campground”. She developed 12 weeks of programming around bible stories from the Old Testament through the resurrection, and sometimes up to twelve kids, from preschool age up to pre-teen, would join her, eager for something fun to do before the pool opened. It was a unique time for the kids to “cut loose and have fun before they ran off for the day”.

After the 12 weeks of programming, when students had gone back to school, Jacinda got a call letting her know that several kids in the campground had still shown up on Saturday morning, looking forward to a bible story and activities. Jacinda has hopes to further nurture and expand this outreach into “a vacation bible school… or weekly bible study for the parents” next year.

Jacinda is excited to continue imagining what the Holy Spirit might be up to in her community! She is a member of the second cohort of the Innovator Learning Academy and was recently admitted to Wartburg Seminary as a candidate for Word and Sacrament.