The Big Tony Hawk in the Sky

Wedged in the middle of church row in Portland sits “skate church” — possibly the most popular indoor skate park in Oregon, even with the required half-hour sermon before every skating session. What makes the skaters stick around? One element, writes Katia Dunn for the weekly Portland Mercury, is the pastor’s use of language the skaters can understand.

“‘Dude,’ yells Gerald Griffin, the pastor of skate church, in a sermon given a few weeks before Christmas. ‘Dude, the punishment that Jesus suffered–that punishment was totally gnarly.'”

Though the sermons compel a few kids to convert, most just come to skate, because when it’s rainy out the converted warehouse is the only place to skate, and Portland is not exactly known for its dry climate.

A local church supports the facility and treats it as an outreach program, and though the conversion rate may be low, Pastor Griffin feels that “for every hour a skater is at skate church, that’s another hour he’s not getting in trouble.”
–Sara V. Buckwitz
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