By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service
TULSA, Okla. — When Brant Lozano was 13, he thought the idea of a church for skateboarders was stupid.
But a friend kept inviting him, and eventually, Lozano gave in.
To his surprise, “Skatechurch” — a ministry hosted by the First United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa — turned out not to be so lame, he said.
“Everybody was really good (at skating), and the facility was really nice, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’” said Lozano, who was not a Christian when he first showed up.
Nearly two decades later, Lozano, now 32, leads a regular Sunday afternoon Bible study amid foosball and ping-pong tables in the Methodist church’s fitness and sports building. Afterward, dozens of skateboarding enthusiasts — mostly males, ranging in age from 8 to 40 — perform flat-ground tricks, grind on rails and jump over ramps in the church’s gymnasium.
“It’s nice — a fun place to be,” said Noah Lusk, 13, who listened quietly to Lozano’s 30-minute lesson on guilt and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ before taking his skateboard into the gym.
The ministry in Oklahoma’s second-largest city started in 1997 as skateboarding grew in popularity — and as skaters nationwide often were pushed off street corners and out of town squares.
Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.