Sports-themed VBS coming to town Friday

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Barclay Square has hosted a variety of events throughout the summer: Groundhog Festival, Music in the Park and Church in the Park, among others. Now, get ready for the Punxsutawney Sports Fest.

“We’ve done a variety of different VBS programs over the years; this time, we were looking for something to take into town so everyone can participate,” said Pastor Chris Golembiowski of the First Assembly of God Church near Walston.

He said the church decided to hold a Sports Fest in Barclay Square in partnership with Christian Sports International (CSI), which is a group of former professional and collegiate athletes with a Christ-centered focus.

“The group’s mission statement is, ‘To change the hearts and lives of kids with the good news of Jesus Christ, impacting lives through sports and education programs, locally and throughout the world,’” he said. “We’ve done several different programs, including a sports weekend with them at the church.”

He said CSI has something to offer in all areas, and it is a well-rounded group that aims to lift up the spirit, soul and body.

“This year, instead of doing VBS, which is an in-house thing, we have outsiders coming in, and that’s why we felt the best thing to do would be to hold it downtown, which has much higher visibility,” he added.

Golembiowski also said that because the presenters are athletes, the kids may look up to them or hear their message in a different manner.

“I’ve seen how the kids act when they’re in the presence of these Christian athletes,” he said. “Their ears and eyes are wide open as they listen to what they have to say, as opposed to someone else.”

Golembiowski said the program begins at 10 a.m. Friday, and from 10 a.m. to noon, there will be a basketball clinic for children ages 7 to 18.

Then, there will be a three-on-three basketball tournament from 1 to 5 p.m.

He said Saturday is going to be a very busy day, as there will be a football clinic for boys, with former Pittsburgh Steeler Robin Cole leading the program, and a gymnastics clinic for girls from 10 a.m. to noon in Barclay Square.

Golembiowski said from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, there will also be a home run derby contest using wiffle balls and bats for various age groups.

For registration information call 724-453-1400 or e-mail

The program will conclude with a church service in the park at 7 p.m., with former Pittsburgh Pirate Sid Bream as the keynote speaker and music by MMGI songwriter/singer Sarah Grinder.

Golembiowski said Sports Fest will not only be an outreach to the community, but it is also a program that he especially wants to do for the young people at the church.