Without miracle, Lord’s Gym to shut down

lords gym
It was still a typical Wednesday night at the Lord's Gym Oct. 2, 2013, with dozens of young people hanging out -- off the streets and out of trouble. (KOIN 6 News)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Hundreds of families will be looking for another place to get help, when a church-based community center in Vancouver closes at the end of the month.

The Lord’s Gym has been a staple in Vancouver for nearly a decade. But the building needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance, and the church just doesn’t have the money to keep it going.

The problems at this gym, on Grand and 4th Plain Boulevard, were especially clear on a rainy night like Wednesday’s. Leaks could be seen all through the building, with lots of people praying for a solution.

Yet it was still a typical night at the Lord’s Gym, with dozens of young people hanging out — off the streets and out of trouble.

“October 31st,” said Pastor Jamie Kingsbury of New Life Friends Church, “this will all be shut down.”

New Life Friends Church runs the Lord’s Gym. It’s modeled after a similar program in California, where the church has not only the gym but a clothing rack for needy families in Vancouver and the homeless. It also hosts one of the largest food banks in Clark County, feeding more than 300 families a month.

“We’ve got a lot of hygiene items, which are typically hard things to come by, shampoos, soaps,” Kingsbury said.

But the building that houses the Lord’s Gym is in serious disrepair. Bathrooms don’t work and there are 21 leaks in the building.

“It’s one of the leaks, of many leaks, that are on the property,” said Kingsbury, pointing out one on camera. “You can see it’s coming down the walls onto the floor.”

It’s so bad that buckets are spread throughout the building. The building needs $300,000 in repairs. And it costs $10,000 a month to maintain.

So it was a hard, but necessary, decision to shut it down.

For people in Vancouver like Colton Boyle, the loss of the Lord’s Gym is a blow.

“There’s a lot of kids in this neighborhood who really utilize this gym,” Boyle said. “I’ll find somewhere else to go if they do close it. But I’m praying they don’t.”

And Pastor Kingsbury is praying that one day the Lord’s Gym will re-open and serve this community again.

“We’re just spreading the word and letting people know that we need help,” he said.

The New Life Friends Church also runs two adult recovery centers. They will stay open.

But unless the church finds a way to fix this building, the Lord’s Gym is lost.

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