Anna archery ministry gets to the point | Faith and Values







Participants in Centershot take aim during a recent session at First Christian Church of Anna. The ministry introduces youth to archery and to faith.


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ANNA – As the young archery students pulls gently on the bow strings under the watchful eyes of instructors at First Christian Church of Anna, the archers are focused on the targets down range. It’s not the bullseyes that the instructors and organizers want them to necessarily focus on, however. They say their target is something bigger.

This is Centershot, a non-denominational outreach program using archery as a means to share Christian faith with children and teens. Much like the Upward sports programs popular in many of the region’s churches which use basketball, soccer, cheerleading and other sports programs to introduce participants to Christian beliefs, the unrelated archery program teaches participants bow and arrow skills as well as life skills from a Biblical perspective .

The Anna congregation is the first church in the region to offer the program. Senior Minister Joey Hawkins said the program is a great fit for Southern Illinois, especially given the love for outdoor activities and the growing popularity of archery.

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Hawkins, who first learned of the program while pastoring a church in Iowa, said Centershot uses the same safety and set-up principles taught in national school archery programs, within the context of Christianity.

“We use the life skills that come with archers as a tool to assist us in reaching people for Christ. It’s another way for us to connect with people, ”he said.

Each Centershot program consists of eight weekly meetings of about two hours on a weeknight. Each session includes a meal, lesson time and then work on the archery range. The congregation sets up targets in an indoor multi-purpose facility at the church.

“It’s been really well received and the kids have really enjoyed the experience,” Hawkins said. “It really builds their confidence. You see a kid who first steps in and can hardly put an arrow down range and then by the end, really see some improvement. ”

To lead the program, volunteers must be trained and certified by the Wisconsin-based Centershot organization. Hawkins said First Christian Church has offered training sessions in hopes that other churches and Christian organizations in the region will begin offering the program to students in their communities.

“We love hosting other churches and talk about ways they can get training and maybe start programs of their own. Maybe someday we can have local tournaments as the ministry spreads to other local churches, ”he said.

Still, he explained, the goal is to share faith and impact young people. On a national level, Centershot believes the program is a good way to introduce people to local churches.

“The biggest thing with Centershot is it allows us to really develop confidence, not just in archery but in faith because they can take the lessons and confidence and apply them to their lives,” he said.

The next Centershot program at First Christian Church of Anna is planned for March. The program is open to all area youth, but space is limited. Information is available by calling the church at (618) 833-6834

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