Church begins with a free skating period from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays, followed by a “show your best trick” exhibition on the skatepark floor behind the Bible study seating area.Then the skateboarders, some still in their pads and helmets, listen as Brian McClellen explains parts of the Bible and how it pertains to their lives. After the Bible study, they finish the night with more skating.Owner Brandon Nash expanded his skate shop into a skate park in 2006 and began the church in 2007 at his first location in the industrial park behind Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I wanted to do this from the beginning,” Nash said. “We have always believed that skateboarding and Christianity go together. … This is a good door to open relationships between the community and the skateboarders, who sometimes get a bad rap.”In 2011, when he moved his Soul Ride Skatepark to The Village Shopping Center in Concord, he asked McClellen, a longtime friend, to lead the nondenominational Christian Bible meetings that anchor Skate Church. McClellen agreed, and he and his wife, Natasha, try to help others understand the Bible.“I just love Jesus,” said McClellen, who is not an ordained minister. “I want the people to know it is a safe place to come and meet Jesus. We are accepting of all religions.” He spoke of showing his faith to others in hopes of introducing them to Jesus. On July 22 – a typical Monday at Skate Church – he led the group in prayer before and after a discussion of the parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament book of Luke, Chapter 15. McClellen, 22, told the group he was like the prodigal son, having struggled with alcohol, drugs and women and considering suicide at age 16. He said the Lord revealed himself in a powerful way and saved him that night, leading him to a better life.“And Jesus can do the same for you!” he instructed the skateboarders. The church is free and open from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday nights. Most weeks, the church draws a crowd of 40 to 65 skateboarders, and sometimes a few using inline skates.Ben Livengood, 25, of Matthews has been coming to Skate Church since its beginning and especially enjoys McClellen’s service.“The good thing about his message is that Brian speaks to everyone, and (the message) can be applied to any kid or adult of any age. Being a skateboarder, he (Brian) relates to us and brings more truth to me.”Nash said he would like to spread the word about the church and the skate park as well. “We serve a lot of kids with no place to go,” Nash said. “It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.”Soul Ride Skatepark is a 20,000-square-foot indoor skate park with a bowl and ramps made of wood. “Wood is much more forgiving than concrete when you fall,” Nash said.Open seven days a week, the skate park has a schedule that varies, with a summer day camp starting at 8:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. It opens to the public at noon. The cost for the week of camp is $125. The last week of day camp will be Aug. 5-9. The usual fee to use the park is $6 for one hour or $10 for all day. A waiver and release must be signed by the skateboarder (or a parent if the child is younger than 18), and helmets are required at all times. A pro shop sells gear and accessories, and equipment is available for rent.
Monday, Jul. 29, 2013
Concord skate park becomes Skate Church on Monday nights
To learn more: For more information on Soul Ride Skatepark, visit www.soulrideskates.com/home.htm. The skate park is on the back side of the Big Lots building in The Village, at 280 Concord Parkway S., Suite 6, Concord.
Marty Price is a freelance photographer and writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less