The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is starting programs in Brainerd and Pillager this school year.
Nationwide, FCA started in 1954 and was brought to Minnesota in the 1970s. Brainerd High School has been involved with the organization in the pas, but has become inactive.
Rick Lenarz, the FCA director for central Minnesota is ready to get the program back in lakes area schools, starting in Brainerd and Pillager.
FCA is a program for coaches and athletes from junior high to professional level sports. Through Christianity, their goal is to affect the world, on and off the athletic court or field.
"It's about being true to His word and sharing the gospel instead of hiding," Lenarz said.
Lenarz said at Pillager and Brainerd high schools there will be weekly FCA huddles or gatherings. The huddles will be student-led and anyone is invited, but the topics of discussion will be sports-related. The meetings will likely be before school and will last about a half hour. There will be a devotional, Bible study, team building exercises and speakers.
"It's an opportunity for kids to learn more about the Lord," Lenarz said. "And a time for them to exercise their faith."
Coaches and adult volunteers will help facilitate the huddles. The Pillager huddle leader is Sue Van Hal and Brainerd's is former BHS student and athlete Joel Jacobson.
Jacobson, a 2001 graduate, participated in football, wrestling and track. He became involved with FCA as a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he says he learned about glorifying God through sports.
"This is something I could've really benefited from when I was in high school," Jacobson said. "I'm excited to bring it back into (Brainerd High School)."
Besides the weekly huddles, Lenarz said monthly events, like dodgeball games or bowling, will be held. During the summer sports camps, golf camps and leadership camps are held around the state for junior and senior high students.
"This is what kids relate to, "Lenarz said. "How they can relate to their faith and how their sport can relate to their faith."
Lenarz is looking for adult volunteers, coaches, youth pastors and churches to help with the program.
"We're looking to get the community to embrace this and work together with other churches and ministries to build a foundation for these kids to work from," Lenarz said.
Lenarz himself became a Christian at an FCA function six years ago. With an extensive athletic and coaching past, including being an assistant men's basketball coach at Concordia University-St. Paul, Lenarz became the FCA director for central Minnesota in October.
For more information on FCA or volunteering, go to www.centralminnesotafca.org.
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5879.
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