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Clear Spring High's Christian Athletes group is open to all

June 15, 2004|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - To join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Clear Spring High School, one need not be an athlete. And although it has yet to come up, being a Christian isn't necessary either.

By that, club adviser Matt Wilson means the organization would welcome members of the Jewish or Muslim faith, as well as those who might be seeking religion in their lives.

"We strive to be inclusive rather than exclusive," Wilson said. "Jesus wasn't exclusive, so why should we?"

Begun nationally in 1954, the organization is the largest interdenominational, school-based Christian sports organization in America, according to its Web site. It focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.

The art and photography teacher at Clear Spring for three years, Wilson started attending the Christian Athletes meetings when he arrived. Two years ago, he took over as adviser.

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"In college, I was involved in Young Life, a Christian youth organization," Wilson said. "I would go into high schools then recruiting from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes."

The president of the group at Clear Spring is Jennifer Fields, 17, a graduating senior and the class valedictorian. She will be a freshman at Bridgewater College in the fall, majoring in chemistry and math.

"I heard about the group my freshman year in gym class," Fields said. "I was already involved in my church, North Side Mennonite, and I played soccer, so it seemed to fit for me."

The group meets weekly, with as many as 30 in attendance and sometimes as few as three or four.

"We open with a prayer and then we have a snack," Fields said.

Usually, there is a game and then some prayer requests.

Wilson said the group is trying to add worship songs to the meetings but that can be hard when only a few members are present.

Outside activities also are a part of the fellowship, as evidenced by a recent speaking engagement Fields had at the nearby New Life Christian Ministries church east of Clear Spring.

"Rick Heines, the assistant pastor, asked me to speak at the youth group there," Fields said.

Fields chose homosexuality as her topic because she believes a lot of people don't really understand where the Bible stands on that subject.

"Some of the kids were shocked by the Bible references to homosexuality, but they are there," she said.

Discussion, exploration and interaction on faith issues figure large in the fellowship's mission. And all viewpoints are welcome, Fields and Wilson said.

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