WEST PULLMAN — Cleophus Dill said he plans to attend Bible class for the first time at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps. Community Center Wednesday after his children recently attended a class and enjoyed it.
"Three of my kids went to Bible study and said they loved it. Now they are encouraging me to come with them," said Dill, 35, who recently moved to Roseland from Englewood. "It makes you feel like family when you can work out and then go downstairs and worship God."
The 167,000-square-foot Kroc Center at 1250 W. 119th St. is home to Kroc Church, run by the Salvation Army.
"A lot people may not know this, but the Salvation Army is a religious organization that offers worship service at all our community centers," said Capt. Brenda McCoy, an associate pastor at the church. "We preach the Gospel everywhere we go."
Worship service at Kroc Church is 11 a.m. Sundays. Bible classes are offered at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Worship service and Bible classes run for 1½ hours, and free child care is available.
In Englewood, the Salvation Army runs the Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center, where worship services and Bible classes are also offered to the public.
The average attendance at worship service, held in a 500-person-capacity chapel that doubles as an auditorium, is 160 a week, with weekly Bible classes averaging 30 people, according to McCoy, who added that money raised through collections on Sundays and at Bible classes is used to support church services and activities.
Major David Harvey, administrator for the Kroc Center, and Darlene, his wife of 29 years, serve as the pastors of the church.
"For 24 years we have worked for the Salvation Army and we are both ordained pastors to preach the gospel," Harvey said. "What we try to accomplish with our worship service is to help people get to Heaven and to provide a new avenue for people who do not have a regular church, but still desire to attend service."
And Harvey said he does not see the Kroc Center competing for members with nearby churches, such as Christ Universal Temple, which is two blocks away at 11901 S. Ashland Ave.
Marcus Hall, 37, recently learned about worship service at the Kroc Center, where he has been a member for a year.
"I think it is a good thing to have worship service here. It gives the community something positive to do," said Hall, who lives in Roseland. "I am not a member of any church but I do believe in God."
Sylvia Howell-Jenkins, a Kroc Center member, said she attends worship service at her own church but is glad there is a church available to the community.
"Everyone does not have a 'home' church like me, so having a place to worship close by is an excellent idea," Howell-Jenkins said.
The Kroc Center also has an aquatic center complete with diving boards and a mini-water park for children; a 4,000-square-foot fitness center, which has exercise classes specifically for women; a 200-room banquet hall and a 600-seat theater, both available for private use.
It also has outdoor and indoor basketball courts, which double as an indoor gymnasium for other activities, such as roller skating, tennis and volleyball; a football, baseball and soccer field; indoor track; weight room; computer room; classrooms; game room; and infant rooms, which include child care services.
It offers job readiness programs; a music room for those wanting to learn how to play an instrument or record a song; vocational programs, such as wood shop and culinary school; and a rooftop garden for youths.