ST. LOUIS – The pews that once lined the halls of St. Liborius church in North St. Louis have been replaced by ramps, rails and one very large half pipe.

“We saved the Church.”

Joss Hay believe in that statement, having been heavily involved in the restoration process himself alongside his non-profit family known as Liborius Urban Art Studios, or LUAS.

“A lot of it was done by volunteers who were looking or a dry place to skate,” Hay said with a laugh. “The possibilities are absolutely endless.”

Once you’ve converted a church to a skatepark, the opportunities truly do seem endless.

But that was just the beginning.

Sk8 Liborius | Featuring one of the largest half pipes in the midwest

Just over 10 years ago, Dave Blum bought the church with a vision that went beyond a skate cathedral.

“When I got this place 10 years ago I though, ‘Well, let’s see if this was as stupid as an idea as everybody told me it was,” Blum said. “Kind of our mindset here is that it is just a big sandbox. The whole place is silly putty. It is whatever the community wants it to be and needs it to be.”

In an area like north city, Blum’s focus is on offering children a place to let their creativity run wild, exposing them to art, music, carpentry and, of course, a little skateboarding too. LUAS partner Bryan Bedwell thinks promoting this kind of positive change through skateboarding will help alter misconceptions about the sport as well.

“[This church] is really giving us an opportunity to show what we can do,” Bedwell said. “That we’re not just skaters. That we’re not just some weird builder guys. That we’re actually trying to do something here. We are trying to make a difference.”

There’s only one thing keeping this team from making that difference.

“It is for the most part stabilized,” Blum said about the restoration process. “That brings us to the point now where we can go to the city and be like, ‘in order to open this safely to the public, what kind of work do we need to do?'”

Unfortunately, a lot of work, but thanks to most of the volunteer work done over the past decade, the church doesn’t need nearly as much work as most 100-year-old churches.

“We need like a cool million dollars,” Blum said with a smile.

That is a decent chunk of change, but one the LUAS team is prepared to fundraise through private donations, events and a public gofundme page.

“The attitude we’ve gotten from most of the city people is ‘how can we help you do this?'” Blum added. “I think they understand that our goals in this are very altruistic. We want to make a safe and productive place for kids in St. Louis to find their passions and explore them.”