Church Skateboard Park
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(Locator: Richland, Washington)
If there’s such a thing as heaven for skateboarders, it might just be right here in Richland, Washington.
J.D. Juerling/Skater: “This park is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to this town, ever.”
Todd Kleppin/Youth Pastor: “It really has become, like the hot spot.”
This “hot spot” sits just across the parking lot from a United Methodist-supported church.
The church donated land and 10-thousand dollars to help the city build what’s believed to be the biggest skate park in the state.
Todd Kleppin/Youth Pastor: “The greatest ministry that’s occurring here is for us to have a presence on this site.”
With more than 100 kids showing up each day, youth pastor Todd Kleppin has a mission field right outside his office door.
Kleppin interacting with kids: “What’s up guys, how’s it going?”
He knows most youth in his state don’t go to church, and if he’s to change that, he needs to know all he can about them.
Todd Kleppin/Youth Pastor: “The more information I know, and I can kind of spout back at ‘em, they give you more respect. They realize this guy isn’t a fool who just comes out, he actually cares about my world, my struggles, my issues.”
He finds the more he learns about their world, the more open they are to his.
J.D. Juerling/Skater: “This is a really positive thing here cause, you know, kids could be doing other stuff that might not be so positive, you know.”
Just like the skateboarders when trying new moves, Kleppin hopes this project will encourage other churches to take some risks.
Todd Kleppin: “Usually if it makes us really uncomfortable, and it makes our church boards uncomfortable, it’s probably something we ought to proceed with.”
Kleppin: “Good having you guys hanging out, enjoy.”
Church members bring snacks and water to the skaters, and some of the kids have asked the youth pastor about Bible study classes or other opportunities at the church. Kleppin hopes to invite other skaters in for demonstrations and sharing, and to stage youth concerts at the park in the future.