By BRAD KEITH
ERATH COUNTY (June 22, 2017) — Rest assured, it’s not just a Stephenville or Cross Timbers thing. And with Fellowship of Christian Athletes now ministering in 45 countries, it won’t be long before it’s not even just an American thing.
FCA leaders present for the exclusive dinner for about 50 primary supporters of Cross Timbers FCA at The N at Hard Way Ranch near Bluff Dale Thursday evening spoke of a need they see for expanding FCA to reach into youth sports.
Kenny Weldon, chairman of the Cross Timbers FCA board and also mayor of Stephenville, pointed to the size of Stephenville Parks and Recreation Department, known widely by its initials, SPARD, as a rich source of youth who could benefit from the FCA ministry. SPARD has participants numbering in the thousands, and while there are adult sports and activities included, the majority of participants are local youth.
“We pick select sports teams of 8-9 year olds,” he said. “I don’t see why we can’t minister to teams of 8-9 year olds.”
Weldon has never been afraid to take the lead in speaking adamantly regarding his belief in the mission of FCA. He passionately supports the stance of association leaders such as Wade Hopkins, who is vacating his leadership of the Southwest Region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas) of FCA to lead the Tom Landry Associates Program aimed at fundraising for the global outreach ministry. Hopkins attended the local event as a keynote speaker and emphasized the need to reach the majority of persons who are active in sports, just not in school. He shared a startling statistic, saying 57 million persons between the ages of 8 and 18 play sports, and 50 million of them do so outside of school.
Weldon also laid out the lofty growth goals of Cross Timbers FCA leaders, hoping to see big increases throughout the FCA’s Four C’s of Ministry – coaches, campus huddles, camp attendance and community (outreach). Leaders of the local chapter hope to see more coaches being ministered to and/or aided in their ministry, increase the number of local “huddles” (regularly meeting FCA groups), increase the number of local participants in FCA camps and expanding beyond schools into the community, which would include an expansion into youth sports.
“We’ve made tremendous progress in three years,” said Weldon, citing how long it’s been since Cross Timbers FCA was formed and Carrie Normand left her teaching job to become the first area director. “But there is still so much more we can do.”
Weldon assured attendees, who by and large represent the individuals, businesses, churches and other such organizations providing the bulk of the funding for the local chapter, that Normand and board members would be visiting with them at an appropriate time concerning a strategy for attacking growth goals, which included a more than $200,000 increase in annual funding and the addition of three more staffers under Normand, currently is the only paid FCA staffer in the local chapter. Those specific two goals would work hand in hand, as the majority of such a budget increase would be earmarked specifically to pay staff.
The plea to see Cross Timbers FCA – and on a larger scale, FCA across the globe – grow and reach more people with its mission work, came after sponsors who have helped the local chapter grow to its current state were appreciated with the presentation of framed photos.
Weldon also issued those in attendance a challenge to get their churches involved in FCA, noting that First Baptist Church Stephenville and Cornerstone Assembly were the only churches among the list of primary donors, most of whom were represented at the dinner.
Cody Davis spoke at the event, part of a whirlwind of homecoming activities for the 2008 Stephenville High School graduate who is entering his fifth season with the Los Angeles Rams. A defensive back by trade, Davis made his first three starts for the Ram defense last season, spending the majority of his first four years on special teams, where he has made a pair Pro Bowl ballots but has yet to win the popular vote for one of the prestigious all-star spots.
Davis said he knew of FCA in high school, but wasn’t overly involved with the organization until his second year at Texas Tech, where he met his wife, Ashley. Now in their fourth year of marriage and the parents of 1-1/2 year old Kane, the couple gives monthly to Cross Timbers FCA and Texas Tech FCA.
Normand announced Thursday that Davis has purchased surprise gifts from FCA for participants in his fourth annual Cody Davis Student of the Game Youth Football Camp. He is expecting more than 180 participants for the free camp open to anyone entering grades 1-6. The camp is at Stephenville High School Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Davis also reminded attendees of The Pride of Stephenville Art Event, a display of 20 projects illustrating the pride of Stephenville. They were created by SHS art students and are on display at the Bruner Auto Family GM Store, where a silent auction to purchase each piece continues through next Friday, June 30. All proceeds benefit Cross Timbers FCA.
Other FCA leaders in attendance included multi-area leader Steven Keenum, father of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, and Brownwood area director Tony Daniel.