July 20, 2013

Skate Church gets on board with Jesus

The Lexington, Ky., church stresses fellowship outside of a formal church setting.

By CHERYL TRUMAN Lexington Herald-Leader

LEXINGTON, Ky. - On a sunny Sunday morning, the Skate Park in Woodland Park is filled with skateboarders taking on the little concrete canyons.

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Gideon Maki, 20, second from left in background, reads a passage from Lamentations, in which Jeremiah talks about suffering, during a recent Skate Church service at the Skate Park in Woodland Park in Lexington, Ky.

Photos by Matt Goins/Lexington Herald-Leader/McClatch Newspapers

social issues
click image to enlarge

Joshua Roberts catches some air after leading a recent Skate Church service at the Skate Park in Woodland Park in Lexington, Ky. “What better way to do church than with a skateboard?” he said.

And then it's time for church -- Lexington Skate Church. The service is held on two picnic tables a skateboard's soar away from the Skate Park.

The Skate Church is affiliated with Lexington's Simple Church, which emphasizes fellowship outside of a formal church environment.

Joshua Roberts, who is leading the service, unpacks doughnuts, juice, Mountain Dew and an egg-and-bacon casserole that he cooked. Roberts, a longtime skateboard enthusiast, will later conclude the service by climbing on a skateboard and sailing around the skateboard park.

"What better way to do church than with a skateboard?" Roberts said.

Roberts has been skateboarding "since I can remember ... and found Jesus a few years ago."

About 15 people attend the service, held around the picnic tables, ranging from middle school to young adult in age. Roberts leads off by reading Scripture from Acts 8 -- the part about Philip and the importance of baptism -- and then urges other attendees to share Scripture, experiences and reflections that have been meaningful to them.

A passage is shared about the sufficiency of God's grace, and how that puts individuals in partnership to improve their lives.

Skate Church began in 2012 with visits to various skateboard venues, although in 2013 the church has been more centered around Woodland Park, Roberts said.

Joel Darland grew up in church but stopped attending while in college, he said. Now, with Skate Church, he's back.

So is Gideon Maki, coming to church with his girlfriend Hannah Flynn.

Maki reads from Lamentations, in which Jeremiah talks about suffering, "the wormwood and the gall," followed by grace.

"It's against the culture of the world to look at your brokenness ... and move forward," he told the group. "But it gives you a place, through God, to move forward."

Some of the Bibles used by the group are tiny pocket versions; others read their verse from a smart phone. Katherine Hager, Roberts' fianc? reads aloud a reflection she has written on the back of a recipe.

Will Jennings, 12, comes to Skate Church with his mother and sister. The family commutes from Frankfort, Ky., to attend the church.

"I just like coming and talking about God," he said. "This helps me be faithful to God -- and I get to skate and see my friends from Lexington."

Roberts gives the group a benediction, then hops on his skateboard.

He plans for two weeks out. It's a baptism Sunday, but the skateboarders won't have to go far.

It's being held at Woodland Pool.


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