Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It's Time Grant Helps a Church Find a Place in a Transitioning Community

Our gym stood vacant; a sad reminder of a day when the church was thriving. The 80,000 square campus that once had 1500 enrolled in Sunday School was now mostly silent during the week and not very active during the three hours it was open on Sunday.

A $21,000 grant would change the course of this inner-city church in a transitional neighborhood.

When I arrived at Baptist Temple almost ten years ago, we were on the verge of celebrating our 100th anniversary and in search of a vision for the future. The It's Time, with an accompanying grant, was how the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was helping churches like ours find ways to be on mission for God.

In 2009, San Antonio led the nation in diabetes and obesity. At the same time, we had a gym no one was using. The answer was simple. We decided that we were going to help our church and our community become healthier by developing programs for all ages. We used the grant dollars to purchase fitness and recreation equipment and turn a forgotten recreation room into a weight room.

We offered karate, tumbling, chair aerobics, balance training, and open gym nights. During the summer, kids were introduce to golf, tennis, badminton and other non-traditional sports. Classes on healthy cooking, nutrition, diabetes management/prevention, and cancer awareness were offered in partnership with the YMCA, University of Texas San Antonio, Methodist Health Systems, Baptist Health Systems, and the San Antonio Metrohealth district.

Further grants from the Baptist Health Foundation and Texas Baptists have allowed us to hold annual health fairs and establish a community garden. For the last three years Baptist Temple has been a site for the city-wide Fit Family Challenge. We were the first church site. A second church was added based on our successful model.

This level of health awareness led to a campus-wide recycling program that keeps a dumpster full of items out of the landfill. Recently we have installed a solar array and are currently developing a plan to replace our current landscaping with water-saving hardscape and succulent plants.

We hope to provide a model for other churches to follow so they can help their congregation and community live the abundant life that Jesus brings. 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full. 
John 10:10

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