By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Addressing the spiritual needs of its congregation always come first within a church. But churches also reach out beyond their doors to meet needs and offer help. Jewel City Church recognizes that today’s youth need support to help foster their road ahead, and some of this church’s projects are geared towards meeting those needs.
Several years ago, well before their new church was constructed, Jewel City Church put a softball field on its property at Maulsby Cove. It is now the home field of Lincoln Middle School’s softball team. According to Pastor Robert Shingleton, that field is in use every day and/or evening during the season; weather permitting, youth are there playing, practicing, and hosting games all the time.
If you haven’t been there, it is truly something to see! There is a press box, electronic scoreboard, bleachers on both sides for spectators, concession stand, handicapped accessible restrooms, lighted playing field – you name it. Teams come from all over; families come to watch games; it is well utilized.
Pastor Shingleton noticed how young families bring younger siblings to the games and often watched those younger children expend their energy by playing in the dirt while games were going on.
“So we decided to build a playground adjacent to the softball field to give them a safe place to play during games,” he said. “I had this idea for a couple of years, but our finances were always needed for something else,” Pastor Shingleton stated. “While filling that need had to be put on hold for a while, the idea never disappeared. Now, we have found ourselves in a position to make it happen.”
The playground is now a reality. The playground area is fenced in and sits atop a surface covered with rubber mulch. The equipment was ordered from the Amish country and delivered and setup by them as well.
Pastor Shingleton noted, “As it was being assembled and youngsters saw what was going up, they ran over to try it out immediately. This confirmed that we were fulfilling another need.”
The equipment on the playground satisfies every need for play with different activities featured on both sides of the equipment. There are swings – even saddle swings for infants and toddlers; slides, crawling tunnels, a tire swing, climbing wall, child-size picnic tables – you name it! Picnic tables for adults have been delivered and will also be set up in the play area so that parents can have a place to sit and watch while their children at play. They plan to add pavilions and picnic tables outside the fenced area but adjacent to the softball facility as well in the future.
“The playground is open to anyone in the community,” Pastor Shingleton stressed. “We hope this area gets a lot of use – not just when softball activities are going on.”
He also referred to today’s rampant drug problem among youth, saying that giving kids a safe place to play and channel their energy can lead to a more positive state of mind and hopefully a better future for them.
“We feel that it’s never too early to start leading kids down a better path. We need to reach out to them and give them opportunities to stay active and involved before their lives are ever touched by drugs,” he concluded.