It was a unique privilege to be invited by Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom CEO, Warren Evans, to speak at their annual conference in Bradford, England earlier this summer. On Wednesday 13 June I traveled from my home to St. Louis, Missouri (USA), boarded a plane to Washington, DC, and then flew to Manchester, UK. On Thursday, after a 90 minute ride to Bradford, I joined the Sports Chaplaincy UK team as they were well into their day of induction at Life Church. I sat in on the remaining sessions of their excellent training for new sports chaplains, checked into my hotel room, and went to dinner with colleagues and friends from across the UK and Ross Georgiou from New Zealand, now living in Germany.
On Friday the 15th I delivered the three talks I had prepared for the conference. I talked with the gathered men and women about what it is to inspire and to be inspired. I then spoke with them about how we challenge and receive challenges. Lastly, I spoke with them about how sports chaplains must stretch and be stretched to serve effectively. The conference, continuing through Saturday, also included some excellent and practical training in various dimensions of serving in sports chaplaincy with excellence. Like most sports chaplaincy conference, some of the most valuable exchange of information and ideas took place during the breaks, over coffee, across the lunch table, and in casual conversation. Throughout the conference the attendees were challenged to “Raise their Game.” Warren and his team were excellent hosts for the conference with every detail handled very well.
On Sunday we attended church with the Evans family at Life Church. After a brief visit to the river locks near Bradford, and a wonderful family dinner we had a restful evening watching England’s opening round World Cup victory.
Monday included an outstanding meeting at the home ground for the Bradford Bulls Rugby club with Warren, Ross, Richard Gamble, and me. We discussed many facets of the global growth of sports chaplaincy. As the meeting adjourned we took Ross to the train station so he could catch his flight home. The balance of the day was spent with Warren and his lovely family, in relaxation and comfort.
On Tuesday morning we began an extraordinary day of travel including a traffic jam due to an accident on the motorway, running with my bags to the check in counter (arriving with about 30 seconds to spare), hassles at security, a good flight across the pond, delays in Chicago that had me sleeping on the floor of the airport overnight, and the eventual return to St. Louis, my car, and the two hour drive home. International travel is only glamorous to those who don’t do it.
To be included in relationship with such highly committed, loving, bright, and visionary people as Warren Evans, Ross Georgiou, Richard Gamble, and the board and chaplains of Sports Chaplaincy UK, is an immense pleasure and privilege. I am very thankful for these teammates and their faithful service of our Lord.