Creative ways to love our neighbours
THE CHURCH: North Kildonan Mennonite Church, Winnipeg
THE CHALLENGE: Give the neighbourhood a fun place to play outdoors.
THE COST: A denominational grant covered the $2,000 expense.
Mackenzie Hildebrand, who has been working as faith development pastor for the past year, explains:
We noticed some local kids using scooters and bikes in our parking lot, and we realized there aren’t any basketball hoops installed at the nearby public school. Our neighbourhood is in the northeast end of Winnipeg. You might call it a suburban residential area. During the pandemic we were especially thinking about how people need outdoor places to hang out.
Then we saw our regional denominational grouping, Mennonite Church Manitoba, had this local mission grant program. Our church already has a paved parking lot. So we agreed to put together a grant application for the backboards, hoops and poles. I filled that out and we got the full $2,000 we asked for.
As far as the installation, we basically went to Canadian Tire (and you could go to any sporting goods store) and paid about $1,600 for two good sets of backboards, poles and hoops with nets.
We got some friends of the church who know construction to come and dig holes in our existing asphalt lot. They needed a concrete saw for that. We paid them $400. A week or two later, after a church service, a group of church members worked together to set the poles into cement. It was fun. It felt a bit Iike a community barn raising.
All this, and then installing the hoops and backboards, happened last September, so if you know Winnipeg weather, the snow came pretty soon after that before there was a lot of use. We got some use out of it in October until the snow came. I went out a couple of times to say hello to the neighbourhood kids and tell them how we’re glad they’re here playing, and that we installed the hoops for them to use.
When winter came we took down the nets from the rims. We’re really looking forward to the spring and summer to see how much neighbourhood kids take advantage of the new equipment. No doubt some church members and our youth group will too.
It felt a bit Iike a community barn raising.
Our plan next spring is to promote a regular drop-in night for basketball. We’ll put it on the church sign for neighbours and in the bulletin for members. We’re waiting for spring before we paint basketball court lines on the blacktop.
We’ve thought about what basketball might mean for the houses across the road. We put up a sign that says, "Please be respectful of the neighbours and don’t play basketball after 9 p.m." We’ll see how that goes. We don’t have any major lighting for playing after dusk anyway.
Our parking lot is pretty full when we have a church service, so no one is going to play basketball Sunday mornings. But most of the time, even when there’s some kind of committee meeting at church, there’s enough space for those cars to be well away from the basketball court.
→ Do you have a story to share about your church’s community outreach? Contact our editors at [email protected]. Read more stories at FaithToday.ca/CIC. Photo: Mackenzie Hildebrand