For over twenty years, Riverside Community Church of God has been one of the locations in the Cottage Grove community to offer a spot for residents to take advantage of an indoor gymnasium.
“Most of the people we get are really great with our facility. It’s kind of a double-edged sword, where it’s really exciting when the gym is used a lot, but that means the floor gets used a lot. It deprecates a little bit,” said Andrew Loyd, the church’s lead pastor.
Loyd, who has been the lead pastor at the church since 2020, attended South Lane Christian School and used to play basketball in the gym when he was a teenager. “Riverside let us use the gym for practices and games. That was really nice because the gym we had was a cement floor with carpet over it, which is really difficult on your feet and on your body. So, to have a nice gym to have played at was a blast,” he said.
Over the years, the church’s gym has been known in the community as a hub for open gym basketball, volleyball, pickleball, recreation sports, youth sports, wedding receptions, camps, and more. Everyone in the community has been welcomed to use it, and the cost has been free for the majority of events to use over the years.
“During the fall, it can get really busy, so making sure we have enough space for everybody to get in and do all their different events can be challenging. People are usually really great to work with. Having a lot of people in there is kind of a good problem to have,” Loyd said.
Frequent use of the gym, however, has resulted in a lot of wear and tear. The facility requires regular cleaning and upkeep. Eventually, gym floors like the one at the Riverside Community Church of God need to be refinished. This is what the church recently found out that it needed, and the cost will be upward of $20,000.
“During COVID, things were not happening as much. When the world opened up a little more and activities got a little bigger, we looked at the files to check the last time we had some work done on it. We saw that due to COVID, [this maintenance] was a little past the regular schedule. We called [to get a repair estimate], and I was sweating a little bit because it was a much bigger number than I anticipated,” Loyd continued.
The church, which hopes to have the refinishing project completed by mid-September, launched an effort to raise funds for the endeavor months ago. At this time, it has raised about $18,500 from church attendees and other community support. Funds did not come easy or quickly, though. At one point, the project was 33 percent funded, and then the next week, it was 80 percent funded thanks to a single large donation.
“A really huge thing we are really passionate about in all avenues is hoping our presence makes the community a better place. We hope the things we are able to bring to the community is for the good of it and that we can help make it better and let people know they are cared about,” Loyd said.
Moving forward, the church plans to instill a small fee for use of the gym in order to cover the cost of upkeep. While the church has been used in many ways over the years, Loyd has big dreams for what can still be done in the facility’s future.
“A really big thing I’m passionate about is helping people in recovery communities, people struggling with social-economic situations, or people living under the poverty line,” Loyd said. “I would love for that room to be a space where we are reaching people in those groups… [and for us] to get creative about how to use the gym. We have a lot of dreams about it being a place where people who are down and out on their luck or are struggling can [have their needs] be met in that space.”