New director of Connecting Caring Communities doing ‘Kingdom Work’



Position: Executive director, Connecting Caring Communities
Family: Wife Becki Ellis Cagle, married Sept. 1, 1979; two daughters, Courtney Drysdale of Denver and Carlee Kumler of Dallas; 11-month-old grandson Clark Drysdale of Denver
Education: Abilene High School 1975; bachelor of science in all levels of physical education and health education, 1980, Abilene Christian University, and a master’s degree in Bible, 1982-83, ACU
Experience: 38 years in vocational ministry, including six as youth minister at Highland Church of Christ in the 1980s.
More information about CCC and its programs:

A major fundraiser for Connecting Caring Communities will be held Sept. 2 at the Paramount Theater when Mark Bell brings his “Yesterday: A Tribute to the Beatles” from Las Vegas to Abilene. All tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance online by going to the Paramount Theater website, and clicking “Calendar” at the top and then on the show title. Showtime is 7 p.m. CCC is raising $10,000 in order to qualify for an additional $10,000 in a matching grant from the Shelton Foundation.

By Loretta Fulton

“Everything we do is relationally based–we’re not trying to go in to fix people.”

That could be the motto for Connecting Caring Communities, a neighborhood improvement initiative in Abilene. But those were the words CCC’s new director Terry Cagle spoke to a group of Hardin-Simmons University incoming freshmen during Stampede Week, a freshman orientation program, prior to school starting.

The students gathered Aug. 24 at CCC’s new office at Lowden and Hickory, formerly a CCC Friendship House, to clean up the neighborhood as part of a community service component of Stampede Week. 

From the beginning, the aim of CCC has been the same–exactly the words that Cagle spoke. The initiative started at Hardin-Simmons in 2002 through its Neighborhood Enhancement Center, under the leadership former Dean of Students Linda Carleton. In 2005, the name was changed to Connecting Caring Communities and nonprofit status was granted.

Since then, CCC has undergone a number of changes, including staff. Cagle, an Abilene native, is a 1975 Abilene High School graduate and an Abilene Christian University graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in all levels of physical education and health education in 1980 and a master’s degree in Bible in about 1982. 

Most recently, he worked with a church in Arlington and on trips to Abilene had met Dusty Garison, a former CCC coordinator who lived in the house where Cagle now lives and offices. When Cagle learned last October that CCC was looking for a new executive director, he was interested.

“This is an opportunity to be in truly a Kingdom of God work,” he said.

Not that the church isn’t “Kingdom of God work,” he said, but this is an opportunity to literally meet people where they live. Churches and nonprofits like CCC should be partners, he believes, not competitors.

CCC concentrates on the College Heights neighborhood, which extends from Grape to Pine streets and from North First Street to Ambler Avenue. Within that area, CCC staff and volunteers work with neighbors to help them help each other in improving their neighborhood.

Cagle is well prepared for the job. He has a history of service. He was youth minister at Highland Church of Christ from 1982 to 1988 and has been involved in church work most of his life.

His wife, Becki Ellis Cagle, whom he married Sept. 1, 1979, is beginning a new job as a teacher at the Head Start program located at the former Jane Long Elementary School. Cagle credits his wife with starting the Junior Achievement program in Abilene when they lived here.

“By the time we left Abilene,” he said, “she knew everybody in Abilene.”

He still knows quite a few. His father and a niece live here, as does a cousin, Don Frazier, a history professor at McMurry University. And, he is quickly meeting new people.

CCC has been in flux of late, with the departure of the former executive director, Lori Thornton, three of five community coordinators, and the office manager.

“We’re kind of doing a re-set,” Cagle said.

That included downsizing operations to focus on the College Heights neighborhood and moving the office from First Christian Church in downtown Abilene to what was the North Park Friendship House in north Abilene near the Hardin-Simmons campus.

“We’re in the midst of formulating our plan for how we’re going to go forward,” Cagle said.

“Going forward” requires money. CCC is on track to receive a $10,000 matching grant from the Shelton Foundation. CCC must raise $10,000 before getting an additional $10,000 from the foundation.

A major fundraiser is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at the Paramount Theater when Mark Bell brings his “Yesterday: A Tribute to the Beatles” from Las Vegas to Abilene. All tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance online by going to the Paramount Theater website, and clicking on the show title.

Cagle emphasizes that Connecting Caring Communities means connecting the residents with one another, helping them recognize and utilize their skills and knowledge, to improve their neighborhood. CCC partners with churches, schools, the city, and nonprofits to facilitate that work.

“We aren’t competing with anybody,” Cagle said.

Cagle calls himself a “Kingdom guy,” and that is why he is so excited about joining the Connecting Caring Communities team. He believes he has a unique opportunity to help fulfill a specific part of the Lord’s Prayer–Thy Kingdom Come.

“That’s my hope and prayer,” Cagle said, “for what CCC does.”

Terry Cagle

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