No separation for ‘church and skate’

Since 2008, Epworth United Methodist Church in Lewes has been offering local skaters a safe, free place to skateboard. This winter, however, the skate park at Epworth is taking it to the next level, demolishing the old ramps and equipment in the church parking lot and pouring concrete.

Coastal Point • Submitted: Skaters compete in one of the Skate Park at Epworth's Ollie contests.Coastal Point • Submitted: Skaters compete in one of the Skate Park at Epworth's Ollie contests.“We’ve needed a skate park here for over 20 years,” said Susan Selph, a parent of a former Epworth skater and head of the project. “If they don’t have a skatepark, there’s no place for them to go. Giving them a place to skate eliminates that problem.”

Skateboarding is illegal in the streets of Rehoboth Beach in the summertime, so when the church moved locations five years ago and found themselves with a large parking lot, they decided to make use of it.

They started off by offering their first “skate day,” and the event was tremendously well attended. For the next three years, the church opened up the parking lot to skaters twice a year, until some adult skaters in the area approached the church, suggesting that they could do even more. Skate days soon became a monthly event. But the evolution of the park isn’t stopping there.

“We’re just getting started,” said Selph. “It’s got to be big enough for the kids to skate there every single day.”

With an idea years in the making, Selph sought out the best and the brightest in the industry to develop the park, calling upon Jesse Clayton from 5th Pocket Design to implement the plan. Clayton has a wealth of experience in building municipal skate parks — most notably in the area of northern Philadelphia, a city known for skateboarding and its skate parks.

One of the main reasons Clayton was hired, aside from his experience, is the fact that he’s a skater himself, so he knows what skaters want and how to design it for them.

“He doesn’t build skateparks to make money,” Selph described of Clayton’s passion for the project. “He builds skateparks because he wants to build skateparks. He’s incredible.”

So far, Selph and the church have raised more than $40,000 for the project, with a large chunk of that coming from local businesses and local families.

“The community has been incredibly generous,” said Selph. “We’ve had 21 people who gave in $1,000 increments.”

Despite the impressive support so far, the park is still $10,000 away from what is needed to complete the project. They’ll continue their fundraising efforts this Sunday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 9 p.m. when SnoYo — located at The Villages at Five Points in Lewes — will donate 15 percent of all sales toward the park.

While Selph and local skaters are grateful for all the support from the community, they haven’t forgotten who made it all possible.

“Epworth opened the doors for us, and then the community funded the project,” she stated. “Without the church, none of this would be possible.”