Next fall, campus ministries will begin partnering with athletes and sports fans on campus to create a ministry centered around the conjunction of sports and faith.
Jennifer Myhre, AU Women’s Soccer coach, used to be the advisor for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) on campus. She shared her excitement to “support and encourage athletes and help them dive deeper into their faith” through this new ministry.
“As a college student, and even as a coach, I have been involved with sport ministry organizations like FCA and Athletes in Action (AIA), and they were, and still are, key in strengthening my faith and walking with Christ,” Myhre said. “Last year we had some athletes attend an AIA retreat and have been in conversations with them about having an FCA or AIA on campus. I’m excited about partnering with campus ministries as another way for any students, athletes or sports fans to connect their faith and sport, as they ‘train’ together.”
When Myhre approached Becca Palmer, director of Spiritual Life about starting the ministry, Palmer worked to gain feedback from students and make it happen.
“At the time, I wasn’t sure if I had the resources to begin a new ministry and what it could look like,” Palmer said. “After our conversation, a few students started asking me about the possibility of a ministry for athletes and said they had a passion for leading something.”
She appointed junior Braden Mikel to be the student coordinator for this ministry as his passion aligns directly with the goals and plans for it.
“Braden Mikel told me his dream was to have a ministry that would combine bible study, community and service to the community,” she said. “That structure really stood out to me, and seemed to align with the mission of campus ministries as well as the need to have a place for our growing number of student athletes on campus. Coach Myhre and I were able to meet again and set up the official structure. Her leadership and involvement will be so important to this ministry, as well.”
The ministry will allow students athletes to get involved in activities that are centered in and around their element.
“We’re still finalizing the structure, but we are planning on having the ministry meet bi-weekly,” Palmer said. “Once a month, it will be more of a bible study and fellowship time, and once a month they will serve the community together. We’re working on a partnership with a ministry close by, such as Park Place Community Center who serves the community in many ways, including their food pantry and with the After School Fun Program.”
Myhre spoke to the way that AU creates community in all spaces on campus and even impacts outside community because of it, especially in athletics.
“One of the great aspects of the AU community is being able to walk alongside each other and grow in our faith together, which can happen in the dorms, in the classroom, in chapel experiences and even as we compete in the athletic arena,” she said. “God created each of us with gifts and talents to be used to honor Him. Sports become so much more when we see it as a gift from God, as a way to serve others and a way to be a light for Christ to those we play with and against.”
Myhre hopes this ministry is a space for student athletes to “feel encouraged, supported and valued while learning more about God’s truths and promises.”
“When you discover more of God’s truth and the ‘good news’ of Christ, you are then able to walk, run and play with freedom and confidence to be who God created you to be,” she said.
Palmer said she is excited to see the connections that will be made between all athletes that are a part of the ministry.
“I hope several student athletes or just students who love sports will get involved and find a place of belonging in this ministry,” she said. “I’m excited to see a place that will offer connections for all athletes, no matter which sport they play. This ministry gives an opportunity for students to connect, grow together and serve the community… I hope this ministry will be transformative in the lives of those who get involved and positively affect their part in their sport, on their team, and in this world.”