Most of us start a new year with resolve to eat right and exercise but it's tough to keep that momentum going. An enterprising United Methodist church has found a way to foster spiritual and physical fitness. Here's an encore of their story we first shared in 2013. The congregation at the YMCA is still going strong today.
Voice of Doc Turner: "It's kind of like you have your own gym."
Caleb Jones, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "It's just fun how after church you can come and workout or play basketball."
Lillian Chambliss, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the Y: "If you come to church here, you can also come into the YMCA rec room and work out."
The Rev. Leroy Chambliss: "This is why we're here....an opportunity for a holistic approach..."
On Sunday mornings, Stillwater United Methodist meets at the Kleptz YMCA near Dayton, Ohio. For an hour, the basketball court is transformed from a place for hoops into a holy sanctuary.
Lillian Chambliss: "We'll have an altar, we have the chairs, we have the screens. We have everything that you would find in a church kneeling rails and a prayer wall and people can feel like they're actually worshipping here."
The Rev. Leroy Chambliss calls this assignment "the appointment of a lifetime," partially because it keeps him accountable for his own daily workout.
The Rev. Leroy Chambliss, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "I've been determined that I want to live a longer life. The men on my mother's side primarily lived in to their 50s. I am 64-years-old. I personally have diabetes and high blood pressure issues in my family. And some of those are associated with just being an African-American. So, I know that with diet and exercise you can manage some of those particular key factors."
The Turner family comes for Sunday school, a healthy breakfast and a family workout.
Doc Turner, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "We like to do the weights, course the weights and the cardio."
Marketta Turner, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "Sunday has always been a good day for family for me and my family, so this keeps it where we're all under one roof. Sometimes the kids come and challenge us on a workout and sometimes they just go do their own thing."
Nathan Jones and his fiance Elizabeth are regulars at the gym church.
Nathan Jones, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "I'm a nurse in profession. Just having the mental, physical and spiritual part of it just kind of ties everything together. It's just a good thing to come here and have service and follow it with a workout."
Elizabeth Schumacher, Stillwater United Methodist Church @ the YMCA: "My family has a lot of health factors-- a lot of health problems in the past year that lead to hospitalizations-- that I took it upon myself to not only better myself but to be a beacon for my family to say, 'This is what I have done personally to change myself and to change and better myself.'"
Chambliss' wife Lillian is a walking testimonial.
Lillian Chambliss: "Staying healthy is very vital to me. As a small child, I contracted polio. The doctors told my parents I would never walk again. I had it in my back. So, throughout my life has just been 'Wow! God allowed me to be fit, so let's take care of this baby from now on.'"
For Pastor Chambliss, his office at the Y is a mission field, where he can emphasize faith and fitness every day of the week.
The Rev. Leroy Chambliss: "I have great relationships with my teens and children that attend here. I attend their high school events swim meets and basketball games - just, talk to them, to be a friend. I think that in many cases, relationship building is the key to relevancy regardless of the age of the individual. I look at the Y like the well, like the woman at the well. People come here. And as a representative of the Kingdom, of the Church in general, I'm here to meet them and provide that spiritual connect."
For more information, contact Stillwater United Methodist at the Kleptz YMCA at 937-832-5465.
This story was first published on January 14, 2013.