Religion and Sports, What do they have in common?
Brandon Bowles, Staff Writer
Religion is one the most controversial topics of discussion in today’s society. People struggle to find their identity and what they do or do not believe in. There are numerous avenues that compete for the attention of today’s youth.
Things like TV, social media and other sources of entertainment have poisoned the minds of youth and put a stranglehold on their ability to think for themselves and fill their lives with the truth of the Gospel. Christian organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) have been tasked with bringing youth closer to the Gospel through the avenue of sport for over 60 years.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes was established on November 10, 1954. Founder Don McClanen decided to base the FCA out of Kansas City in 1956. McClanen’s vision was based on the idea that “if athletes can endorse shaving cream, razor blades and cigarettes, surely they can endorse the Lord, too.” He wanted the athletes to be portrayed as good Christian men in the eyes of the youth across the nation.
Branch Rickey, famed owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was one of the first supporters of the FCA, along with John Wooden, former University of California of Los Angeles men’s basketball coach.
Wingate University first had the FCA in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. This organization was originally led by Steve Jirgal, who is now the lead pastor at Lake View Baptist in Monroe, North Carolina. Wingate was without the FCA for years after Jirgal left, until current lead pastor Shannon Powell relaunched the program in the fall of 2013.
Since the program’s revival, it has steadily continued to grow, though the first 2 years were tough. To help with the immense growth of the program, Powell put student interns in place and gave them an area of concentration.
To name a few, Kyle Johnson is in charge of establishing a Bible study for each athletic team on campus. Caitlin Coughlin is in charge of marketing and advertising the FCA to students on campus. Brison Burton and Bethany Millar are in charge of putting on special events outside of the normal meeting time, which takes place on Monday nights, beginning at 8:45 P.M. in Helms Forum, located in the DPC. Abby Saehler is in control of putting the plans together for Monday nights. Aria Smith is in charge of leading worship music, while Skylar Ricard is in charge of leading prayer. I myself, am also a part of this team of interns. I am in charge of bringing Wingate University’s FCA out into the community with local missions.
In particular, one of the possible events for the Wingate Chapter of FCA includes a chipping competition. The goal of this event is to promote the FCA to students around campus. Another objective is the possible collaboration with the Steagall home for disabled adults. This event allows everyone involved with the Wingate FCA to give back to the community and impact people in a positive way.
A Wingate FCA magazine is also in the process of being written, which will feature what they have accomplished in and around Wingate. No dates have been set for these events, but the magazine is projected to be released later this year.
There are no requirements to join the FCA. All are welcome, rostered athlete or not. As stated above, the mission of the FCA is to preach the truth of the Gospel using the platform of sport to bring youths closer to the Lord.
As you can see, the Wingate University chapter of FCA has a bright future and will continue to do their best to bring young college students closer to the Lord. If you would like to learn more about what the Wingate University FCA is doing, feel free to contact Shannon Powell at email@example.com.
Edited by: Sara Gunter