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On a roll

S.C. congregation opens its parking lot to skateboarders

You see the signs at shopping centers, libraries, maybe even at your church: "No Skateboarding Allowed." So where can young people go to do hardflips or backside Ollie 180s?

In Greenville, S.C., skaters go to Christ the King Lutheran Church every Tuesday night. Soul Skate is a ministry with Reality Church (nondenominational) that provides young people with a place to hang out, listen to Christian music and do what they love the most — skateboard.

It began in February 2001 when Chad Bowie, Soul Skate director and a member of Reality, attended one of Christ the King's "Rocking the Kingdom" concert series. Bowie enjoyed the Christian punk rock band — and saw the church parking lot as skateboarding heaven.

"I came back the next day with my pastor, Richard Fish, to show him the parking lot," Bowie said. "We were searching for a new place to hold Soul Skate. Pastor [Rick] Mason [of Christ the King] came out to talk to us, and the rest is history."

The church checked into liability issues, and the ministry was ready to roll.

Skateboarding isn't all that happens on Tuesdays. Participants take a 20- to 30-minute break to listen to a message from Scripture and to pray. The Soul Skate purpose statement reads: "To glorify God by reaching skaters with the truth of Jesus Christ."

Skaters come mainly from middle-class families and range in age from 8 to 20. "These are basically good kids," Mason said. "They simply love skateboarding and the skating lifestyle. Sure, they sometimes look a little different or dress a little different, but then so did most of us when we were their age.

"Any way that we can help keep kids out of trouble and reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ is a positive. God has led us to this ministry and will prosper it."


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