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Parkour pastor delivers skateboarding sermons at his new Port Coquitlam church

The former associate pastor at Riverside Community Church launched his new Belong Church earlier this year.

A Port Coquitlam pastor is bringing a new angle to spreading his messages of faith and community — upside down or hanging 45 degrees from a vertical climbing wall.

Dave Jonsson has set up his fledgling Belong Church in the Momentum Ninja gym at 1961 MacLean Ave.

Every Sunday, for the next year at least, visitors can fuel their soul at a service that runs from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. while their kids are able to burn off energy on the climbing wall or expansive selection of parkour boxes, giant truck tires and aerial rigs.

Jonsson, a pro skateboarder whose own journey to faith was sparked by a close call in a plane crash near Squamish, said the unique arrangement is an apt calling card for his belief that a church and spiritual guidance should be open and available to everyone.

It’s also a reflection of a growing need for churches to be able to adapt and innovate if they’re to stay relevant, Jonsson believes.

“It’s imperative for churches to think outside the box,” he said. “Church should be enjoyed, not endured.”

A former associate pastor at the massive Riverside Community Church in Port Coquitlam’s Dominion Triangle area, Jonsson said he approached the Ninja gym about using their facility after he saw how much his own son enjoyed attending lessons there, swinging from the rings, navigating obstacles and hoisting himself up climbing apparatus.

Fortunately, the facility is closed Sunday mornings, so Jonsson negotiated a year-long arrangement. Volunteers move some of the equipment aside and set up about 70 chairs for the service while another group of volunteer parents and older kids supervise activities in the gym area.

Jonsson said in total, the space can accommodate about 200 people if some don’t mind sitting on boxes, mats or the hulking tires. He said he hopes the unusual environs will attract people who otherwise might not be inclined to go through the doors of a traditional church.

“This is a new approach to an ancient tradition,” Jonsson said. “We want to create an atmosphere where people can put their feet up.”