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Sports Chaplaincy – a growing ministry in need of support

All churches and other religious organisations have for many years appointed ministers to do chaplaincy work, including those who work in specific areas such as hospitals, the armed forces, the police and in prisons. Another area where this work is required is sport.

All sport, whether professional or amateur, is based on performance. But sports chaplaincy, which is volunteer, covers the other aspects of those who take part. It focuses on the ‘heart’ concerns, such as injury, loss of form and the variety of personal challenges in life. Crucially it offers a confidential ‘listening ear’ to anyone associated with sport that needs it.

Over the past 40 years, this involvement in sport has extended to include football, rugby, horse racing, cricket, disability sports, gyms and many more, and it is valued throughout the world. In the UK, sports chaplaincy has been co-ordinated by a charity called Sports Chaplaincy UK (SCUK). SCUK is a Christian organisation which not only keeps chaplains in touch by means of meetings and annual conferences, but also offers induction training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in such areas as Bereavement Awareness, Mental Health Awareness and much more. The four members of staff employed by SCUK are financed by grants from sporting bodies, individuals and churches that see chaplaincy as a key part of their mission outreach.

Warren Evans (CEO of Sports Chaplaincy UK) addresses a group at Peterborough United FC

SCUK have a dream to see an expression of God’s love and compassion given to every sports club in the UK – a community of more than 151,000 clubs, consisting of 25 million men, women and children. “SCUK believe that the Church is God’s plan A, and it is our desire to help set the local Church up for success in this wonderful community called sport. We believe it’s a community that God cares for deeply,” explains Warren Evans, Chief Executive Officer of SCUK. “SCUK aim to see this God-given dream come to pass by training, equipping and supporting the local Church. The fields are white unto harvest. What a mission field!”

This website link page, pioneered by the Diocese of Peterborough and commended to other dioceses and faith groups, is to encourage local churches and individuals who love sport and care for those who take part in it to help sustain and develop this important work throughout the UK.

There are currently over 500 sports chaplains in the UK, but at present SCUK receives less than a dozen donations a year from the churches that these chaplains lead or attend.

Warren Evans and Anne Wafula Strike (Paralympian and SCUK ambassador)

The Diocese of Peterborough includes the following chaplains:

Cricket

Northamptonshire County Cricket Club – Revd David Chawner (http://www.northantscricket.com/)

Football

AFC Rushden and Diamonds – Canon Roger Knight (http://www.afcdiamonds.com)

Corby Town FC – Revd Paul Frost (http://www.corbytown.co.uk/)

Kettering Town FC – Revd Jez Safford (http://www.ketteringtownfc.com/)

Northampton Town FC – Canon Ken Baker and Revd Haydon Spenceley (https://www.ntfc.co.uk/)

Peterborough United FC – Canon Richard Longfoot (https://www.theposh.com/)

Wellingborough Town FC – Revd John Seaman (https://twitter.com/The_doughboys)

Motor Racing

Silverstone Motor Sport Circuit and British Racing Drivers Club – Revd Paul Mcleod (http://www.silverstone.co.uk/ and http://www.brdc.co.uk/)

Rugby

Northampton Saints Rugby Football Club – Revd Jez Safford (https://www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/)

Speedway

Peterborough Panthers – Revd Michael Whawell (http://www.peterborough-speedway.com/)

If we believe in a God who created humans for a purpose – in living fulfilled and joyful lives that give glory to him – then appointing and training individuals to nurture that purpose and care for individual and community needs is essential.

For further details on sports chaplaincy and how you can support this work in the UK, including becoming a ‘Champion Church’ or a ‘VIP Supporter’, please visit the SCUK website at https://sportschaplaincy.org.uk/ or https://sportschaplaincy.org.uk/church/.