McKEE (6-23-10) – The Lord’s Gym of Jackson County Community Activity Center has now been open for over a year (14 months). During that time the average nightly attendance has been around 50 people, which are made up of mostly youth age 18 and under. They come each day to enjoy the various services offered by the gym, such as a full service weight lifting center with cardio equipment and a basketball court, to name just a few of the things offered.

During the past year the Lord’s Gym has been deeply involved in working with many parts of the community. For instance, they have served as host for many fundraisers for community organizations such as the McKee Volunteer Fire Department and the Jackson County High School Drama Club. The McKee Volunteer Fire Department held a chili supper and cake walk to raise funds for needed equipment. The Jackson County High School Drama Club sponsored a dinner theater program, where they served a spaghetti dinner while entertaining the audience with a Christmas variety show.

The Lord’s Gym also helped the Pigeon Roost Community Church with a benefit singing for one of their members that needed assistance. The singing featured the Kirby Knob Boys, along with many other talented singers.

This past Christmas Season the Lord’s Gym worked with the Appalachia Mission of Hope on their annual “Christmas in Appalachia Party” (even though the weather didn’t cooperate).

The Lord’s Gym has also provided many programs and events throughout this past year such as: a tutoring program for middle and high school students, two lock-in programs to celebrate the middle school’s 8th grade promotion and the high school’s senior graduation, they worked with students from Iowa’s Northwestern College to provide a “Fun Night” in which games and activities were provided by the students, and they even co-sponsored a “Pastor’s Revival” with the Jackson County High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They have also begun work on an indoor baseball/softball program that they hope to get started this fall.

The Lord’s Gym has worked with many community agencies such as the Jackson County Board of Education and the Census Bureau. A couple of times this year the gym served as the location for a self-defense training offered to some of the schools teachers. The Lord’s Gym also worked with the Census to provide them a meeting place when it was needed.

In an attempt to do something about the drug problem in Jackson County, they merged with the local Perfect Vision Anti-drug Coalition to found a new coalition, which is now called, “the Lord’s Gym of Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition”. This group meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Lord’s Gym to come up with different ideas about how to prevent drug abuse in Jackson County.

This is but only a few of the ways that the Lord’s Gym has tried to be a part of the community and also tried to make Jackson County a better place for our youth. In order to be able to run a program like the Lord’s Gym it takes funding and volunteers. The Lord’s Gym is a completely volunteer-driven program. That means all workers are volunteers.

To help with their volunteer shortage, the Lord’s Gym is beginning a new initiative called the “Church Adopt-a-Night Program.” They are seeking churches that are willing to adopt a night to serve at the Lord’s Gym each week.

What the church will do is this: they will bring at least three of their adult members to help chaperone the gym for the night, they will also include their youth programs into this by also bringing them to the Lord’s Gym on their “adopted night”. They will work with the youth in attendance and provide a short devotional (approximately 20 to 25 minutes).

If your church may be interested in becoming part of the Lord’s Gym “Church Adopt a Night Program,” then please call one of the following for more information: Rev. Carroll DeForest (former pastor of Gray Hawk Reformed Church) at 287-2124, Pastor Brian Gabbard (Seven Pines Pentecostal Church) at 287-4990, or Pastor Everett VanZant (pastor at Gray Hawk Baptist Church) at 287-7347.

Like most people, the Lord’s Gym is currently going through some funding troubles. At this time there are approximately 13 churches that are monthly supporters of this program. That means they send in a monthly pledge that is used to operate the Lord’s Gym. Some churches send in $25, while others send in $100. It just depends on the size of the church, and what they are comfortable sending.

In order to keep the Lord’s Gym open it will take a larger commitment from the community. They are hoping that area churches and businesses will step forward to help save the Lord’s Gym by becoming monthly sponsors.

There are approximately 89 churches in Jackson County. If all of these churches gave only $25 a month that would add up to be $2,225 a month, or $26,700 a year. That would go a long way toward keeping this program open to serve the community and its youth.

This program has been a blessing to Jackson County. Isn’t it time we helped by returning the favor? If you, your church, or your business are interested in helping in anyway, then please call Neal Broadus at 364-2218 or call the Lord’s Gym at 287-LORD (5673).

If needed, they can provide a speaker for your church to come talk to you about the Lord’s Gym Program, or they will be happy to arrange for you a tour of the Lord’s Gym facilities. All donations received go toward operating and program costs.