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Provo Adventist Community Center
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By Linda P. Walton
 
Ten years ago, the Provo, Utah Seventh-day Adventist Church decided that our "double classroom" wasn't enough for all of the activities taking place on our campus. So began the fundraising, planning, building and eventual completion of our community center with a gymnasium, kitchen, rest rooms with showers, yard and parking for 75 vehicles – all attached to our existing building which was erected in 1962. 
 
In our area, a church without a gymnasium, etc. is unusual – Mormon churches have well-designed facilities that accommodate everything from basketball to wedding receptions. Most churches, however, aren’t open to the general public for use. This creates a great opportunity!

 
Because of the poor economy in the last few years, many charities and community groups have either folded or suffered because of reduced funding and volunteerism. I started getting phone calls.
 
"Could our Red Cross classes be held in your church?" "What about the clinical pastoral training/chaplaincy classes?" "Habitat for Humanity meetings/dinners?" "Provo Fire Department (our neighbors – they have a key)?" "Basketball/exercise programs?"
 
Now we already have our Sabbath services, Pathfinders, Adventurers, prayer meetings, potlucks, Sabbath School, birthday parties, and even regional church meetings in our facility (Provo is centrally located in Utah). But our events usually involve Wednesdays and Sabbaths. What about the other 5.5 days?
 
Because Adventist Community Services has always been a central part of our congregation and denomination, we "mingle" with many organizations during disasters. Provo Adventists wanted to take it to another level.
 
What about a karate, Zumba, soccer, pre-school or kids' gymnastics class? Yep. Done.
 
Music – we've got the community hand bell choir, a children's choir and the Utah Valley Symphony Orchestra (their prior location burned down), that all rehearse in our facility.
 
Community Health – Provo Adventist Community Center hosts the National Kidney Foundation, Red Cross Blood Services, and Utah County Health Department – flu shots, etc.
 
Student Outreach – About 75 college students from the East coast bicycled across country building homes for Habitat for Humanity. They landed in Provo for two nights and enjoyed hot showers and good food! And they joined with volunteers in our valley to build a home for a family that had been homeless!
 
In the last six months, we have had 10-15 student visitors from both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, who are taking comparative religion classes, visit every Sabbath morning.
 
Community Business – What about employment and business development? We host the Micro Business Mentoring group and Community Action Circles program.
 
Community Churches – We have hosted the National Day of Prayer commemoration. Sunday churches have worshipped here. We routinely have meetings and lunch for the Utah Valley Ministerial Association (representing 38 faith groups).
 
Community Services – We've had car washes to benefit various causes and a yard sale to help a scouting group. Oh yeah, and we also have MOU's (memorandums of understanding) with FEMA, the State of Utah, Utah County, Provo City and the American Red Cross to use the facility for a command center, shelter or warehouse, in the event of a disaster.
 
All groups sign contracts for liability purposes. Some groups pay, most don’t. The Utah Valley Symphony will perform a benefit concert on April 1 to raise money for our program. One Sunday church pays “rent” as it is able. The hand bell choir plays for our church services.

Several of our members have taken the businesses course and started their own businesses. Many in our congregation have taken Red Cross first aid courses, at no charge. I'm not sure how many deaconesses have taken karate. . .
 
We routinely have "regulars" ask if they can use the facility for a personal event – weddings, birthday parties, etc. Our facility is now their facility – they feel completely comfortable. We try to accommodate everyone.
 
Late one afternoon as a noisy activity was going on in the gym, I walked into the church to get something from the secretary’s office. As I passed through the hall I noticed some movement in the sanctuary. Several of our patrons had migrated to the sanctuary to enjoy the peace and quiet. They needed someone to talk to – I listened. Wow.
 
"Evangelism" can take many paths.
 
Our goal – "To wear out the entire building until there is nothing left and then Jesus will come!"
 
Linda P. Walton is director of Provo Adventist Community Center; president of the Walton Group – a full-service public relations and advertising agency; and chaplain at Utah Valley University