Antioch United Methodist Church pastor Gerald Bryant has been leading a basketball ministry every Sunday afternoon at the Jim Blair Center since early May.
Bryant started the initiative as way to encourage anyone who would like to play pick up basketball enjoy a competitive game in an atmosphere that promotes sportsmanship as well as fellowship.
“Hope and Hoops was started in order to give kids, teenagers, and really anyone, another outlet,” says Bryant. “I hear people complaining all the time about living in a small town with limited activities, so we wanted to start a free basketball ministry to offer people an activity but also to encourage people to fellowship with one another.”
Pastor Bryant starts every meeting of Hope and Hoops with an encouraging message and he reminds everyone in attendance of the importance of respecting one another and working on developing teamwork. Bryant hand picks the teams from a sign up sheet and does his best to mix and match teams where young kids have the opportunity to play with some older competition.
“We do this for fun,” says Bryant. “We can still have a competitive atmosphere and have fun doing it; it’s all about helping each other and learning from one another.”
After teams are announced, pastor Bryant always begins Hope and Hoops with prayer and he asks everyone who is playing to join him at center court for a prayer circle.
“We always want to remember the reason why we are doing this,” says Bryant. “Some of the people coming out to play maybe have never heard the message of Christ, so we try to lead Hope and Hoops in a way that embodies the love and compassion of Christian concern.”
So far, Hope and Hoops has had great attendance for the past five months. Each Sunday, anywhere from 15 to sometimes 40 people show up to participate in pick up basketball games.
“I’m thrilled that so many people are coming out and joining us for Hope and Hoops,” says Bryant. “Even if we are only able to reach one person through this ministry, then that is what it’s all about.”
If you would like to participate in Hope and Hoops, just show up at the Jim Blair Center on Sunday afternoons.
The games start at 3 p.m. and end after everyone has had a chance to play at least one game. Pastor Bryant would like to invite anyone and everyone who would like to attend to come out and join the fun.
By Adam Capps