"Doing what we love for the God we love" is the slogan of Surf Church.
Samuel dos Anjos, one of the community leaders who chose the Transparente Building, on the border between the city of Porto and Matosinhos, to a place of worship (right in front of the sea, note that) explains: "If I'm a surfer, I do not need to separate my faith from what I am, I'm connected. I can be a surfer and love God, believe in God, follow the Bible and love Jesus."
The central idea, then, is that it is possible to practice the faith associated with a particular activity. In this case, the surf.
The Surf Church began to be thought of in 2013 by Troy Pitney, North American, and Samuel of the Angels, Brazilian. But the activities really started only in April 2015.
To the initial group consisting of Troy, Samuel and Dustin Waters were gathering more elements, responsible for the logistics of the celebrations, which include surfing, but also the offer of food and drinks. But not only.
Currently, in the Surf Church community you can also join free dance, guitar, art classes and a space dedicated to a deeper study of the Bible: "We think that God gives us passions and talents. Some of us like to surf, others to make music, and we think we should use these talents that God gives us to celebrate Him and celebrate life with others", explains Dustin.
The celebrations take place every Sunday, on the Matosinhos beach. At 14h, the group meets for surfing, bringing together family and friends of the surfers, followed by a moment of conviviality, at 17h, music at 18:30h, and finally the study of the Bible.
But who are, then, the people who are part of this community?
"About 60 people are involved in the organization. As for the participants, we have an age group ranging from babies up to 50, 60 years. But most people are young people between the ages of 18 and 24."
Says Dustin, "the main group, the people who come most consistently are Portuguese, from Porto. We do not want to create something foreign, we want it to be a Portuguese church. We do the bilingual celebrations, which is cool and important, but the main group is Portuguese."
As Samuel explains, "we avoid the word religion, church, things like this, because it draws a prejudice to the word. We are a community of followers of Jesus and we believe in the Bible as the basis of what we do".
The idea of creating this kind of community came from a meeting called Transform, an annual conference that takes place in Europe and brings together people from all over the world.
At the conference we talk about the countries of the Mediterranean and there are project teams from various countries, including Portugal: "Six years ago our colleague Troy led the team that came to Portugal. He came with this team four times to Portugal. At the end of this fourth year, he came here to live and wanted to start a fixed project."
The Transform takes place with the purpose of "preaching Jesus, talking about the Bible and the love of God".
Dustin is peremptory to say that the group is meant to be a community and not a religion, so they decided reach the surfers and get involved in that community: "The idea is to bring people together. For a long time, the church, religion and faith have been separated from the lives of many people and this still happens. They go to church, they pray, but in a way that is not related to our lives and we think the Bible speaks a lot about life in general. We wanted to be just one".
Text by Álvaro Cúria (Jornal de Notícias newspaper)
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© 2017 Igor Martins (Global Imagens Agency)