Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gym Dandy Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church Is Celebrating Its 50th Anniversary, but There's More to This Church Than the Sanctuary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gym Dandy Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church Is Celebrating Its 50th Anniversary, but There's More to This Church Than the Sanctuary

Article excerpt

The founders of the church, in 1946, stated as part of their

mission "that we owe our youth a place for Christian recreation

and natural social activities. . . ."

Perhaps that's why they built the gymnasium before the

sanctuary.

Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church held its first worship service

at 4001 Hendricks Ave. on Sept. 22, 1946, but it is Hendricks'

recreational association that draws the most attention to the

church and is considered by the church to be its most effective

program, even though 95 percent of those who participate in the

program do not attend the Southside church.

"The purpose is to fulfill the recreational needs of the

Southside community," said Harvey Jay, a former chairman of the

recreation association for 15 years. "It provides an opportunity

to witness through a program aimed at the entire community.

Names such as Dee Brown, a guard for the Boston Celtics, and

Jeff Treadwell, a former place kicker for the Denver Broncos,

got their start on the hardwood courts and orange clay fields at

the church.

Tomorrow the church will be having a reunion of anyone who has

participated in the recreation program. Registration is at 10

a.m. with a free lunch at 11:30 a.m.

The gymnasium, built in 1946, was used as a sanctuary until the

present-day worship hall was built in 1958. After renovations to

the gym prepared it for athletic play, the Hendricks Avenue

Baptist Recreational Association was started about 38 years ago.

W.K. Hatcher, a deacon at the church, was instrumental in

beginning the program, providing about $25,000 to the church to

renovate the gym and buy equipment. Hatcher also provided a

portion of the sports director's salary every year until the

program was up and running. Hatcher did all of this anonymously.

The association now offers Little League baseball for 5- to

14-year-olds and basketball for 7-year-olds through high school.

Sportsmanship, leadership and development of skills are stressed

in the athletics. But one main, and unique, aspect of this

league is that every child participates, regardless of natural

skill, said the Rev. …

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