Legacy Park uses sports to reach the next generation

By Jay Flynt

A statement one often hears at Sherwood Baptist Church is, “Whoever wants the next generation the most will get them.”

This quote has been on display in the congregation’s atrium for many years to serve as a reminder of what the church’s purpose is in Albany, GA. Senior Pastor Michael Catt says, “We truly want to touch the world from Albany, GA.”

Sherwood Baptist Church is located in the Southwest Georgia town of Albany, three hours south of Atlanta and one hour north of the Florida state line. One might recognize this church as the home of Sherwood Pictures, which has released the films Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, which will be released this fall. But the ministries of Sherwood stretch further than just the movies.

One of the ways it reaches its community is through the ministry of Legacy Park. Legacy Park was purchased in 2003 to be developed as an 82-acre sport park complex dedicated to reaching out to the people of Albany and surrounding areas.

Construction began at that time, and the cost of the park to date is several million dollars, along with many hours of volunteer sweat equity (such as installing 12,470 feet of linear fencing).

Volunteers also provide the staffing daily as the park is open to the public. They serve as greeters and assist visitors with the use of the different facilities the park offers. General use of the park is open to the community, and groups can request to use the facility as well.

Public can use park
The park consists of an 18-hole disc golf course, two sand volleyball courts, two horse arenas, a stable area, and a fishing pond that is stocked with catfish, brim and bass. In addition, there are two baseball fields, two softball fields, 10 soccer/football fields, eight USTA approved tennis courts, a covered pavilion, a grill area, and a 1.56-mile walking track.

These facilities are also available for the use of Sherwood Christian Academy, a ministry of the congregation, and their athletic program uses the park for hosting various sporting events, thus expanding our outreach to other schools in the region and state. One also cannot visit Legacy Park without seeing the 110-foot cross, erected near the center, to represent the message of the park: “Bringing generations to the Cross.” While inviting future generations out to play, the ultimate goal is bring them to Christ.

Sherwood Recreation Ministry offers three sports seasons and gives children opportunities to play soccer, baseball, softball, t-ball, football, basketball, and cheerleading. Since the official opening of Legacy Park to the public in the summer of 2010, more than 800 kids have participated in the activities offered. Thus, Sherwood is afforded multiple opportunities to minister to families who may never darken the door of a sanctuary.

Because of these ministry touches, Sherwood has seen dozens of families begin to plant their lives in the church as they explore what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Our pastor’s message rings loud and clear every Sunday from the pulpit that our desire as a church is to see children, youth and adults come to know Christ and Legacy Park is just one means to that end.

Sherwood does believe that whoever wants the next generation will get them. Just as Sherwood Pictures has reached “Judea, Samaria, and all the ends of the earth,” the Sports and Recreation Ministry views Albany and the surrounding communities as their “Jerusalem.”

In July, the church hosts the Freedom Festival at the park, welcoming close to 10,000 people. They offer residents a family-friendly atmosphere to celebrate the Fourth of July with a huge fireworks display and dozens of games and food vendors. Again in October, they open the gates for Candy Fest, as nearly 6,000 people come and enjoy a safe, sugar-filled alternative to trick-or-treating.

These large scale events provide even more opportunities to show Southwest Georgia that Sherwood loves them and cares about them, while consistently communicating the life-changing message of the Gospel. Pastor Catt notes, “These gatherings allow us to say to this region, ‘We love you because Jesus first loved us.’”

The park is open Tuesday through Saturday, and hours vary depending on the season. Volunteers and staff are always available to answer questions or serve the needs of visitors. Tours are available upon request. Sherwood would love to show you how the Lord is using Legacy Park to help them reach the next generation for Christ.

Jay Flynt is sports and recreation pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, GA. www.sherwoodbaptist.net


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