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Cedar Park Wins 2023 JBQ National Title

The Cedar Park Eagles Junior Bible Quiz team claimed the championship at the National JBQ Festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Cedar Park Eagles of Bothell, Washington, finished the championship round-robin matches with a 6-3 record to win its first Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) national title at the National JBQ Festival held June 8-10 at First Assembly in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Cedar Park claimed first as they had defeated the Oak Creek (Wisconsin) Condiments team (also 6-3) in head-to-head competition. However, in a salute to Oak Creek, in addition to having the second-place team, they also had a team place seventh overall.

Junior Bible Quiz, created for kids grades first through sixth, uses 576 questions about the Bible that vary from 10 to 30 points, based on the difficulty of the question, with contestants “buzzing in” if they think they know the answer to the question. Pastor Barry Jorris, who has been serving as the JBQ National Festival coordinator since 2006, says this year 79 teams competed for the title, with the top-level competition, featuring the top-10 teams (determined by the first day of competition), being very, very tight.

“There were no undefeated teams in the championship matches,” Jorris says. “We had two teams tied at 6-3 and the next five teams below them were tied at 5-4.”

Sancia Gladwin, Cedar Park’s coach and one of the youngest — if not the youngest — coaches to ever guide her team to a JBQ national title at just 17 years old, says her team has seen God do a lot of work in them, especially during the district, regional, and even national matches.

“During the league meets, even though we won, I think we sometimes lost track of the importance of teamwork and the real reason we were in Junior Bible Quiz,” she says. “But after struggling at districts and regionals, my ongoing conversations about teamwork and glorifying God really began to connect. So, when we arrived at nationals, we arrived as a team prepared to compete as a team and glorify God, win or lose, because the main reason we are in JBQ is not to compete, but to have God’s Word in us.”

Jorris says that the Friday evening worship service reflected that attitude.

“It was a fantastic service,” he says. “God’s Spirit really ministered in a powerful way. From the minute the worship team began, there was an absolute awesome presence of God. And at the altar call, many of the kids, teens, and adults present came forward to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Jorris says that he heard one report about a New Jersey coach whose team was making its first-ever appearance at the national tournament. Although the team didn’t quiz as well as the coach had hoped they would, he said, “The Friday night service made the whole trip worth it.”

“It’s exciting crowning a national champion,” Jorris says, “but the goal is not just crowning a national champion, but to inspire a national army, to send them out, and for them to do great things for God around the world.”

The Cedar Park championship team, made up of Stephen age 12, Savvy age 11, Isaiah age 11, Timothy age 10, and Elia age 9 (the team’s alternate), could be a team to watch for again next year at nationals, as Stephen will be the only team member aging out.

In Saturday’s top-10 competition, Cedar Park had a challenge as it has never finished in the top 10 in JBQ until last year, when the team came in third. And when this year’s team lost its last match of the day in the championship rounds, which could have possibly cost them the title, kids were in tears.

“I had to step in and remind them that it’s not always about winning and losing, but it’s how we portray ourselves — how we live humble when we win, but still gracious when we lose,” Sancia says. “And to see them humble and then portray that when we won, it was just a feeling of deep satisfaction to see them learning life lessons along the way.”

Aruna Gladwin, Sancia’s mother and the Cedar Park JBQ coordinator, says seeing the kids learning to work together as a team, which sometimes meant sacrificing personal points to allow a teammate to buzz in and answer a question, was a joy to observe.

“Each one put in hours and hours of time studying and preparing for nationals,” Aruna says. “But they listened to what their coach (Sancia) told them and to now see the satisfaction and being so happy . . . we were all very happy to even make the top 10, but then to actually win — it’s still sinking in!”

And Sancia, who has been coaching the Cedar Park top team for three years (having coached the younger kids for three years prior to that and was a JBQ quizzer herself), admits that God also helped her to simply trust in Him, noting that she also has a responsibility to keep herself properly focused.

“God has helped me to relax and trust in His plan, whatever it may be,” she says. “But I also have to be aware of my responses — am I glorifying God with my attitude? Am I showing God’s love and setting an example for my quizzers? And honestly, by my focus being on trusting in Him and glorifying Him, this is the first trip that I had a peace, because I knew God always has a plan.”

Planning for next year’s festival is already well underway as Jorris has announced the 2024 National JBQ Festival will be held June 6-8 at Griffin First Assembly in Griffin, Georgia.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.