Local ministry brings circus, offers outreach programs

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Circus shares operations insights, offers powerhouse acts

On Sunday, the Kelly Miller Circus will be coming to Wheaton, courtesy of Body of Christ Outreach Ministries, which is sponsoring the event.

The circus will offer performances at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. At 9 a.m., a free tour will be offered to the public to watch the circus set up and see the animals, including a tiger meet-and-greet where the cat trainer interacts with his cats and explains the husbandry of how the cats are cared for including travel and diet.

The event will be held at the Body of Christ Event Center, located at 501 S. Gilman, off of Highway 86 south of D&D Oil Company.

The two-hour circus performance is one of Body of Christ Outreach Ministry's many outreaches, and will feature 18 different acts, including a tiger act, dancing elephant, circus clown, aerial act, trapeze, contortionist, ventriloquist and more, and it features professional performers from various countries. There will also be elephant, pony and camel rides.

Aside from the fun, the circus helps support local programs wherever it goes and is able to offer performances, in large part, due to local organizations.

"Obviously, the circus is fun," said Jill Watts, Kelly Miller Circus office manager. "It's a great family entertainment venue. But, what so often people who come don't realize is how we get there, and that's bigger than the circus itself. For example, Body of Christ Ministries, the thrill of the circus gets put into the forefront, but if not for that organization, we would not be in town.

"They receive monies on all the tickets themselves which go back into their outreach ministries. Everyone buying tickets prior to us coming helps the outreach ministries better because they receive a bigger percentage of tickets from those sold in advance. And our tickets at $12 are very reasonable. You can't hardly take the entire family to a movie and get popcorn for the same price. If people wait until circus day, it's $16."

Body of Christ Outreach Pastor Gene Robinson said the ministry helps area residents with its outreach programs.

"A portion of the circus will help with our outreaches," Robinson said. "We do a food ministry. We feed about 600 families a month, and we moved over a million pounds of food last year. It's available for anybody in this corner of the state that comes in. We work with about eight other agencies. All you have to do is show up and sign in, no paperwork or questions. All we ask is a name, contact number and how many in the household.

"We also do Christmas for needy families, and probably give toys out to about 1,000 children. We did school supplies for 206 children this year. We had the CoxHealth bus in, which did free health exams and immunizations for kids going back to school, and had the Ronald McDonald House do free dental. We also visit Cassville Health Care and Rehab once a month and other care centers."

They also offer church services throughout the week.

"Sunday school starts at 10 a.m., and church at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and we have dinner following the morning church service every Sunday," Robinson said. "The church usually supplies the meat and people bring a covered dish. On Tuesday nights, we have Bible study, Wednesday night, church, and every Saturday, we have Celebrate Recovery at 6 p.m.

"The circus is every other year. The Wheaton Ministerial Alliance uses the event center for Big God Across the Ozarks. We bring in concerts, revivals and Christian family events. People are welcome to come join us for any program we do. We are non-denominational. We worry about the kingdom, not the name over the door. We are a very casual church."

Watts said those who have not seen the Kelly Miller Circus are in for a treat.

"We're small in the retrospect we are a single-ring circus, but big in the retrospect that you've got some powerhouse acts coming your way," Watts said. "The Catarina with the tigers is the very first act everyone will see. We're very family-oriented and have people who have been here 25 years. We like being a single-ring circus because of the intimacy level."

The circus, which is based in Hugo, Okla., has been incorporated since 1938, and travels to a different town every single day.

"Everybody has moving down to an art," Watts said. "There are so many logistics and months of preparation for that circus event to happen. We have a standard route we cover, but how that route is built is due to an organization, such as one of the civic organizations that sponsor us. We travel every day, seven-days-a-week."

Advance tickets for adults are $12, and tickets are $16 at the gate. Advance tickets for children are $6, and they are $8 at the gate. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the following Cassville locations: Michael's Hardware and Security Bank; and in Wheaton at Security Bank, L&S Foods, Still's Ozark Service, D&D Oil Company or Body of Christ Outreach Ministries, which can be reached at 417-652-3709.

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