Welcome, Sarah Graves!

waterfallWe’re excited to announce that Sarah Graves has joined our Access team as our Waumba Land Director. Sarah is replacing Doug Hurley, who will take on the new title of GroupLife Director.

In 2009 Sarah and her husband, Lawton, were a year away from finishing school in Tallahassee. They knew they wanted to eventually settle in Jacksonville, so they took summer internships there. They attended Access Church that summer, then returned to Tallahassee in the fall.

The following summer, when Lawton completed law school and Sarah completed her master’s degree in social work, they made a permanent move to Jacksonville and started looking for a church. They liked Access, but they wanted to find a church closer to home. “We started looking, hoping to find a church near us that was friendly to unchurched people,” Sarah said. “My sister was not a Christian at the time, and we wanted to invite her to church.”

After trying seven churches in their area, Sarah and Lawton decided to make the drive and call Access their church home. They joined a small group, and six months later they got involved in strategic service.

At their church in Tallahassee, Sarah served as the Kids Ministry Director. At Access she began by teaching 4-year-olds in Waumba Land. She then served as a Waumba Land coach and just recently agreed to serve on staff as our Waumba Land Director. “It feels really comfortable getting back into kids ministry,” Sarah said. “It really is where my heart is.”

Sarah’s heart for children’s ministry has grown as she’s worked in Jacksonville as a family therapist and as she and Lawton welcomed their daughter, Weslyn, in 2011. “It became apparent to me how important children’s ministry is to the heart of an adult. We’re the first church experience for babies. What we teach and show them can carry on into adolescence and help mold their view of God and Jesus for their lifetime.”

Sarah wants to be sure that Waumba Land is a great experience for unchurched people. “The first time a family walks into a church is often when they have a baby,” she said. “They start a family, then they suddenly think they should start attending church. This is such a crucial time in the life of the parents. It’s really important to me that we’re sensitive to people who don’t know the Lord.”

As Waumba Land Director, Sarah will keep Waumba Land running smoothly. She’ll serve the coaches and volunteers, making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs. She’ll also build relationships with parents and talk with people coming in for the first time. “I’m happy to be a part of this ministry,” she said. “I love how Waumba Land brings truth to the level that a child can understand.”

Sarah, Lawton, and Weslyn enjoy spending time together with their three-year-old Labradoodle, Kobe. They love being outside at the park or working in their yard, and they’re looking forward to welcoming a new baby this September.

Please join us in welcoming Sarah as our Access Waumba Land Director!