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Faith & Values beat: Ministry skate park hopes to draw teens

  • Article by: Rose French
  • Star Tribune
  • February 15, 2013 - 7:26 PM

A new indoor skate park for teenagers in Edina aims to combine sporting activities and learning about Jesus.

The Twin Cities sports ministry known as JSAW -- which stands for Jesus Snow Asphalt Water -- recently announced it has signed a lease for warehouse space to construct the indoor park at 7385 Bush Lake Rd. The nearly 3,800 square-foot facility is expected to open next month.

JSAW's cofounder and leader Jonny Nelson says the up-and-coming skate park will serve as a new home for the unusual nonprofit ministry founded in 2004. He says the ministry tries to integrate sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and wake-boarding with Bible study groups and service projects that help out the needy and others.

"It's just about kind of creating a place for youth to belong," said Nelson. "And then for them to be introduced to Christ and engaged in discipleship."

Nelson says JSAW formerly operated a Chanhassen facility with a bigger skate park. It eventually closed because it became too much to support.

For three years, JSAW toured the United States with groups like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, preaching scripture and building "skate ministries," according to JSAW's website. JSAW has built 13 action sports ministries, including projects in Guatemala and Egypt, the website says.

At the new, smaller facility, JSAW will provide offices for staff, "a safe, positive and consistent place for students and a retail shop that will produce revenue to sustain the ministry long term," according to a statement from JSAW.

Grace Church in Eden Prairie and other local churches are supporting JSAW in the new project, Nelson says. The park will be open to the public and is aimed at 13- to 18-year-olds, though anyone is welcome to attend.

"It's going to be a fun, creative park. ... It's the idea ... that I'm a skater and this is who I am, and I love this and I want to reach out to others involved in this."

Rose French 612-673-4352

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