KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Christian Examiner) -- Created with the vision to encourage athletes to endorse a Christian lifestyle in sports, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes celebrates sixty years of ministry this month.
The international, non-profit organization was founded in 1954 by Don McClanen, the former coach of Eastern Oklahoma A&M basketball. For six decades, the organization has hosted camps and conferences across the globe to help young athletes dedicate their lives and athletic ability to Christ.
"Athletics offers continual opportunity either to portray Christ or to elevate the world's standards," said Les Steckel, FCA President and CEO. "By choosing to honor Christ, players and coaches impact not only their own teams but also all who interact with them, look up to them and even oppose them on the playing fields."
Over the years, the organization has grown from it's first conference in Colorado in 1956 to 516 camps in 40 states and 33 countries. In 2014 camp attendance reached 86,557 athletes. Last summer, 10,137 campers made first-time commitments to Christ and more than 9,642 individuals rededicated their Christian commitments.
With a vision to impact the world for Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes, according the FCA website, the ministry has grown from a basketball coach's dream to a world-wide evangelistic outreach that "has never stopped moving, never stopped growing."
"To look back over 60 years and realize the athletes and coaches who have been shaped by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is remarkable," Steckel said.
Among the many athletes and coaches who have ministered through and supported the work of the FCA over the years are NFL Football Coaches Otto Graham, Tony Dungy, Tom Landry and Raymond Berry.