Friday, November 8, 2019

Recap of The 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

The 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity was held October 23-27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the campus of Calvin University.

This ecumenical gathering of sport administrators, coaches, athletes, pastors, theologians and anyone else who seeks to explore the mutual impact of belief and sport, and also wants to affect a cultural shift in modern sport and the role it plays in a life of faith. We heard from Tim Tebow, professional athlete, ESPN analyst and author; Loretta Claiborne, recipient of the 1996 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage; Miroslav Volf, renowned theologian; and other noted names in the world of sport and faith.

BACKGROUND: In 2016, the Inaugural Congress on Sport and Christianity took place in York, England, hosted by York St. John University. The event drew nearly 200 participants from 24 different nations. Best-selling author, activist, and scholar Tony Campolo delivered the opening address, setting the tone for posing questions and seeking answers in sport through the lens of authentic Christian faith. Other keynotes lectures and more than 80 additional presentations were given by scholars and practitioners, each providing new insights and reflections on the culture of sport as it relates Christian thought and life.

In 2019, the energetic conversation continued. The 2nd Global Congress, hosted by Calvin University and Hope College, took place at the Prince Conference. Co-Directors Brian Bolt (Calvin University) and Chad Carlson (Hope College) did a great job of putting it all together. The congress welcomed participants from every populated continent around the globe.

The keynote speakers were from widely varied backgrounds and experiences in sport. The breakout sessions were well presented, thoughtful, and well received by the hundreds in attendance. The campus of Calvin University served the conference well. It was a privilege and an honor to make three presentations and to moderate a block of breakout sessions during the congress.

As per usual, I enjoyed the time between sessions, conversations over coffee or lunch, networking with friends, new and old, and discussions of the ideas presented during keynotes and breakout sessions. I value these moments even more highly than the presentations. This event is unique in that it welcomes both academics and practitioners of both sport and ministry in sport to the table as equals. People from both perspectives are treated with respect and are given a receptive ear.

I have been watching, but have not seen any information about a 3rd Global Congress. I imagine it would be scheduled for 2022.

Dr. Brian Bolt and Dr. Chad Carlson co-chaired the 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity. The pair is podcasting to encourage the conversation on sport and faith. You can listen at or by subscribing to "Dig Deep: Sport, Faith, Life" via iTunes to catch the latest podcast episode. I have subscribed to this podcast and find the discussions to be thoughtful and perceptive. Have a topic or idea you'd like to hear Dr. Bolt and Dr. Carlson discuss? Please send them a line at

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