Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Circuit Runners at the OKC Marathon


From left: Circuit Runners Shala Morita, Michaela Drain, Serenity Shay, Tanya Organ, and Peggy Coe at the OKC Memorial Marathon relay event. Photo by Michaela Drain.

On April 30, a team of five runners represented the Lawton Circuit Runners at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in the marathon relay event. Each runner ran a different leg of the 26.2 mile course. They ran with thousands of runners and competed against several other relay teams. So what set them apart from the pack besides their forest green shirts? They represented a running club which was started by a church.

The Lawton Circuit Runners are a group of runners and walkers who meet weekly at Viridian Coffee in Lawton for exercise and fellowship. Members run or walk at their own pace through nearby Elmer Thomas Park, then celebrate with a drink back at Viridian.

Once a month, Circuit Runners hosts a party run and the drinks are on the club. It’s a great time for members to invite friends to join. The Circuit Runners are all ages from newborns to “masters,” and all abilities are welcome. The group averages 25 for party runs.

Circuit Runners was founded by Centenary United Methodist Church with the support of a grant from the Academy of Innovative Ministry (AIM), a program of the Oklahoma Annual Conference.

Pastor John Hiller attended the academy where he learned about Fresh Expressions and other innovative ministry ideas such as alternative income models for the church. Everyone in the cohort put together a proposal for a new ministry. At the end of the program, each participant received a grant to use for their ministry and three participants were invited to pitch their idea to a panel who awarded additional funds.

Circuit Runners uses the AIM grant to purchase coffee at the party runs, and to make the most important investment any run club can make, t-shirts. True to the alternative income and self- sustaining model taught at AIM, the shirts are sold, and money made goes back into the club.

Circuit Runners also plans to host a 5k this summer and to offer training groups for the Spirit of Survival Half Marathon in Lawton to raise additional funds for the club. The goal is for the club to raise enough money that the funds can be used for other ministries at Centenary and The Wesley Foundation at Cameron University.

In addition to fundraising, Circuit Runners provides a new way for Centenary to connect with the community. Many of the club’s runners attend other churches in Lawton. Lawton Centenary does not want them to leave their current church homes. Some of the families are either looking for a new church home, or don’t realize they are missing a church home. One family recently joined Centenary after attending Circuit Runners.

Circuit Runners meets at 8 a.m. Saturdays at Viridian Coffee on 2nd Street in Lawton, and all are welcome. For more information, contact Pastor John at jhiller@lawtoncentenary.org.


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