Magazines 2022 Jan - Feb Even a church lawn can serve the neighbourhood

Even a church lawn can serve the neighbourhood

04 January 2022

Creative ways to love our neighbours

cutting the ribbon

Cutting the ribbon to open the new Fit Park outside Oakridge Adventist Church in Vancouver. PHOTO: OAKRIDGE ADVENTIST CHURCH

Pastor Rhoda Klein Miller explains:

The Fit Park is building on an approach we have taken in previous years to really be a neighbourhood-focused church. We had already converted a strip of our property into a community garden. That was an important step to help people see our property could serve our community seven days a week.

Normally we do an annual upgrade to our facility that has a missional purpose, like an upgrade to our kitchen to provide cooking classes. With Covid we knew gyms and classes were closed. We realized we have this unused part of the property. Why couldn’t we put in some exercise equipment and fitness components so people who couldn’t go to their regular gym could exercise here?

We were aware of other churches who have done this on their property in other cities. We knew this project could demonstrate outwardly our internal values and goals to benefit people’s health and wellness. We saw it as an excellent opportunity to share God’s blessings even when our building was closed.

We began by polling the neighbourhood through a community Facebook group to see if this was a valid need we could fill. Having the verification from neighbours was an important step.

Our members are very excited when they come to church and see neighbours working out.

We researched outdoor fitness equipment providers, searching for accessible, easy to use, senior friendly equipment that would be robust and require no maintenance. We put a sign on the lawn that said "Fit Park Coming Soon," and a couple neighbours called to make donations, which we hadn’t expected.

We added a water fountain, benches, hooks on a fence for people to hang their stuff, and a bulletin board to advertise health classes and other activities we’ll be able to hold in the future.

People are using it every single day. Our members are very excited when they come to church and see neighbours working out. Repurposing empty landscapes is one way churches can build a reputation as an organization that loves their neighbours, not only their members. I hope more churches might reassess how their properties could be adapted into community-serving spaces.

THE CHURCH

Oakridge Adventist Church, Vancouver
www.OACVancouver.ca

THE CHALLENGE

How can your property serve your neighbourhood? How friendly is this property?

THE IDEA

Serve the neighbourhood by transforming unused lawn into an outdoor fitness park.

THE COST

Approximately $50,000

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