Friday, September 2, 2016

Report from the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

From 24 through 28 August, I participated in the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity at York St. John University of York, England. It was an outstanding four days of presentations, discussions, and fellowship among academic professionals, sports ministry practitioners, and others.

Sports Chaplaincy was one of twelve thematic strands in the congress. The sports chaplaincy strand was comprised of four sessions that included: Sports Chaplaincy Trends, Issues, and Debates led by Dr. Andrew Parker. I then made a presentation titled, Global Sports Chaplaincy: A review of the online training program created for basic, yet comprehensive chaplaincy training. Dr. Steven Waller of the University of Tennessee made a presentation titled, Globalization and the credentialing of sports chaplains: Divergent perspectives. Lastly, Anthony Maranise of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee presented, 6 Degrees of Commonality Uniting Sports Chaplains of all Christian Traditions. Each of the presentations were well delivered and received by the large group of men and women in attendance.

There were sports chaplains from the worlds of horse racing, motor racing, rugby, football (soccer), American football, baseball, athletics, basketball, Paralympic sports, and probably a number of others with which I am unfamiliar.

Our sports chaplaincy colleagues were Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, liberal, and conservative, with backgrounds in sport, coaching, psychology, sociology, recreation, theology, and probably other ologies I cannot even spell.

We were among sports ministry colleagues from Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christians in Sport, the Vatican, Sports Chaplaincy UK, Sports Ambassadors, and others.

Friday evening’s highlight was a sport themed service in York Minster, a medieval cathedral built across the years of 1220 to 1472. It is a remarkably beautiful structure and the service was very inspirational for all attendees.

My primary interest in this congress was to further the connections between academics who research and write about matters of faith and sport, and practitioners of sports chaplaincy, like us. I believe that we each stand to enhance the others’ work if we simply, regularly, and respectfully work together. I hope to contribute to the work of many of my new colleagues in the world of academia, and I hope to continue to learn from their insightful work, analysis, and contemplative writing. I expect that the implications from this congress will ripple across the years, and its impact with be felt around the globe.

Save the date for the next Global Congress, to be held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan October 23-27, 2019.

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