The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 9, 2011

YMCA focuses on its faith

By Joe Malan, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — After its founder’s namesake died in 2001, Denny Price Family YMCA decided to put together a Christian Emphasis Committee to focus on how YMCA can touch lives through faith.

Today, the committee is comprised of a dozen people who represent seven different churches in Enid. The committee meets twice a month and tries to organize family events that incorporate an element of faith.

“After Denny Price died, we became more vocal about our Christianity,” said YMCA Executive Director Ken Rapp.

YMCA also decided to change its mission statement to reflect the new-found boldness of its endeavor to incorporate faith. It now stands as: “The Denny Price Family YMCA of Enid, Oklahoma, is a Christian organization serving all people, as guided by the beliefs and principles set forth in the Holy Bible.

The YMCA seeks to honor God by providing an outstanding facility, atmosphere, and programs that foster a positive change in the spirit, mind, and body.”

In addition YMCA has a guiding Bible verse, Matthew 5:15, which says: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

“It was Denny Price’s favorite verse,” Rapp said. “It is appropriate as a guiding verse for the Y to operate by.”

Part of the reason for forming the Christian Emphasis Committee was YMCA officials didn’t want people to think its mission statement and Christian founding was just for show; it was real.

“Where we differentiate ourselves is that we believe good health is a balance between mind, body and soul,” said Craig Shriner, YMCA board member. “What we’ve sought to do locally is emphasize the faith aspect.”

Christian Emphasis Committee so far has put together five distinct events to help get the YMCA’s message out.

• Father/daughter date featuring breakfast and a day together at YMCA.

• Father/son Bedlam dodge ball, a Saturday evening event complete with pizza and devotion.

• Sundae in the Park, a Sunday event that includes ice cream, picnic games and Christian music.

• Teen night the first Saturday of every month featuring time at the Y and devotion.

• Day of prayer in February in the YMCA’s chapel.

The chapel is a place where people every day can proffer prayer requests and other needs of the heart, Shriner said.

He added these events demonstrate YMCA is about more than sports.

“That’s only one dimension,” said Shriner, who believes YMCA is a place where people of all faiths can come together and have fun.

“The YMCA, from a Christian perspective, wants to embrace all people and create an environment where all people feel safe and welcome,” he said.

“As was the example of Christ — he didn’t come to save just the Jews but the whole world,” Rapp said. “We are open to those of any faith or no faith.”

Rapp said he sees YMCA as “Enid’s great melting pot,” where people can come together, including churches of different denominations.