Monday, January 30, 2017

FCA Collegiate Ministry Conference 2017

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes held a conference for Collegiate Ministry leaders in Louisville, Kentucky last week, 23-25 January. Over 105 men and women from across the USA were in attendance at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Louisville for an inspirational, encouraging, and fast-paced event.

The event kicked off with a welcome from FCA Campus Director at the University of Louisville, Chris Morgan, some talk around our tables, and then a welcome by FCA National Director of Training, Dan Bishop. We then enjoyed dinner together followed by a bus ride to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to participate in the U of L FCA meeting. Roughly 300 Louisville student-athletes welcomed the FCA staffers into their meeting which was highlighted by testimonies from Jessica Brewster of Tennessee State University and Derrick Moore of Georgia Tech. After the huddle meeting we rode buses back to the hotel.

Tuesday morning included worship music, and a talk from Virginia Tech Campus Director, David Gittings. After a break and lots of conversation, we heard from Florida State University Campus Director, Reggie Hutchins. Several periods of discussion around our tables were woven into Reggie’s talk. We had lunch together and lots more conversation. During lunch, we also enjoyed a panel discussion featuring four Head Coaches from various sports at the University of Louisville. These four men all participate in a weekly lunch time Bible study with Chris Morgan.

After lunch, Chad Mosteller, also from the U of L, shared about “Four Chairs of Discipleship” and we discussed this, point by point. After an afternoon coffee break, we regathered for another presentation and discussion by Tammy Morgan, chaplain at the U of L and Chris Morgan’s wife. Jill  Nash from Georgia also contributed strongly to this discussion. The final portion of the afternoon was given to FCA’s new President, Shane Williamson. He took some time to outline his vision for FCA’s future in general, and in collegiate ministry in particular. Shane took some questions and wrapped up the session with an energetic tone.

The evening was highlighted by a purposefully loose plan for groups of people to gather themselves for dinner in any of the nearby restaurants. Upon our return at 9:00 pm, we enjoyed the comedy of “The Laugh Therapist,” Vernard Hines. We wrapped things up with an ice cream sundae bar.

Wednesday morning kicked off with worship music and a challenge by our host, Chris Morgan. I had a few minutes at the conclusion of the conference to promote the monthly conference calls we host for sports chaplains and character coaches, to promote the FCA IMPACT Internships in Europe and South Africa this summer, and to outline the growing list of resources available in the FCA collegiate staff Dropbox.

The conference was very encouraging, inspirational, and allowed plenty of time for us to network with our valued teammates and colleagues. A number of issues were addressed including David Gittings’ “Reality Check,” awakening us to parallel realities at work – one we can see (circumstances) and one unseen (where God is at work) as he walked us through the entire book of Galatians. Reggie Hutchins challenged us re: Racism. He said we must understand: Our role in a world of racism, the reason for racism, and our resources for dealing with racism. Chad Mosteller outlined the four chairs of discipleship as: “Come and See, Come and Follow Me, Come and I’ll Make you Fishers of Men, and Go and Bear Much Fruit.” Tammy Morgan challenged us re: the nature of our ministry with women. She had us discuss our strategies and our roadblocks for serving women well. Chris Morgan challenged us in the final session on “Occupational Hazards.” He reviewed Mary’s example of how to serve in contrast with Martha’s example of how not to serve.

Conferences like this one directly address one of the greatest problems for sports chaplains, isolation. Many of us feel like we’re serving on an island with very few of our friends, colleagues, or supervisors either understanding what we do or the issues with which we deal every day. Simply being together like this is a shot in the arm, a boost to the spirit, and a fresh drink of cool water to the soul. Thanks to everyone at FCA, especially Molly Collins and Dan Bishop, who made the arrangements for us.

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