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Skateboard Spirituality

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More churches – especially in beach communities – are catching the wave of popularity skateboarding offers to reach out to young people.  In Jacksonville, Florida, neighborhood teens roll into Fort Caroline United Methodist Church for food, fun and fellowship.

 
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SCRIPT:

16-year-old Brent Foucht and his friends are avid skaters.  It’s an activity not welcome in many public areas.

Brent Foucht / Skateboarder: “You get kicked out a lot of places. People come out and yell at you.”

The best places to skate – public parks and strip malls – are strictly off limits … but not this United Methodist church.

Ann McCrocklin / Member, Fort Caroline UMC: “This is where they can come and skateboard free and we can minister to them.”

On Friday nights, skateboarders plunge down plywood ramps, whip across asphalt and launch into the air.  Church members quickly learn … be not afraid.

Ann McCrocklin: “It was hard to watch them.”

Jack Weber / Youth Pastor, Fort Caroline UMC: “It looks painful to me, but they always bounce back up.”

Brent Foucht: “You have skating at your church? They’re like, ‘What?’”

Foucht brought the idea to church elders who found it radical … and not in a good way.

Ann McCrocklin: “They were not at all in favor of it.”

It was Ann McCrocklin, a 60-something member, who pushed hard to keep this ministry rolling.

Ann McCrocklin: “If they’re here on Friday nights, they’re not out on the street making trouble or doing drugs or anything like that.”

This freewheeling ministry connects a church full of senior citizens with kids in the area.  The goal is to channel their love of skating into something deeper.

Jack Weber: “We try to move them from this into our Sunday night youth group.”

The church took a leap of faith … that paid off.

Brent Foucht: “We can come out here and have some fun and talk about God a little bit in between the cracks, but it’s good to have fun in between.”

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To protect the youth, the church requires all skaters to wear helmets.  There are plans to build a miniature golf course to give those who don’t skate something to do.