Four months ago, the children at Sewickley United Methodist Church presented the Rev. Russel Shuluga with the ultimate challenge. If the kids could raise $1,000 in donations, the pastor had to preach on roller skates.
Shuluga accepted the offer, agreeing to preach on skates only after the goal was met.
The children reached their goal and on Sunday, the pastor made good on his promise.
Shuluga said it’s been years since he's used a pair of roller skates. But on Sunday morning, he skated around the church pews with ease, preaching two morning services on wheels. His sermon was aptly titled, "Skating Through Life."
Shuluga said he prepared for Sunday, practicing on the skates twice at church and once at the Neville Roller Drome Inc., a roller rink on Neville Island.
“The owner, Jim, was kind enough to loan me the skates and even gave me free time on the roller rink over there. He told me I could come by anytime and practice so he was very gracious.”
He wore the skates for the both services Sunday morning and the congregants were all smiles, even giving the pastor a round of applause for being a good sport.
Shuluga said he knew the children would meet their goal.
“I thought it would take a little longer than it did,” he said, with a laugh.
Susie Moffett, church counsel chairwoman, said the children and youth ministry is working on a mission that involves filling shoe boxes with gifts such as school supplies, toys and hygiene items.
The children went from doing around 15 last year to an ambitious goal of 100 boxes. The gift boxes will be sent to third world countries to children who are less fortunate and the $1,000 helps cover the shipping costs. The shoe boxes will be sent this fall.
"It's been really good for the kids to see that the adults and the pastor care about them and what they're doing," Moffett said.
Shuluga said he was presented the challenge on Mother’s Day after one child came through on roller blades.
On Sunday, six children of various talents -- a unicycle, hula-hoop, jump rope, baton, gymnast and pogo stick –- offered the pastor his choice of a new challenge.
This time, the pastor said he would pray about it first.