Sports Chaplaincy UK 25th Anniversary

Oct 04, 2017

This past week I had the privilege of traveling to Manchester, England to represent Soccer Chaplains United during the 25th anniversary of Sports Chaplaincy UK. The week included observing SCUK’s “induction day” training program as well as participating in the two-day conference. This year’s conference coincided with the 25-year anniversary of the charity which originally was formed as SCORE by Rev John Boyers, the chaplain of Manchester United Football Club.

SCORE, began in 1991, and began to spread into other sport in and throughout the United Kingdom. The charity rebranded in 2011 to reflect a clearer sense of chaplaincy in and to sport. As part of the continuing education, training and fellowship — SCORE/SCUK has typically hosted a conference in the first week or two of October during the FIFA international window.

I first attended a conference  in 2008, coming away with a greater sense of continuing education needs for chaplains in sport, especially in soccer. I have continued to attend every few years as part of my own education and development and to glean more ideas for how Soccer Chaplains United might one day host its own conference with a similar view toward training and development of chaplains.

Posing with Prof John Swinton of Aberdeen Univ after a powerful session on the chaplain’s role as pastor or prophet.

The conference finished with a reception in the National Football Hall of Fame in Manchester. There are many exciting opportunities, not only for training and development, but also relationally. I had the opportunity to meet with chaplains in all different levels of English football (soccer) which may prove to be beneficial to Soccer Chaplains United in the future. For example, during one breakout session, I had the chance to learn from several chaplains that are tasked with developing chaplaincy within the football academy teams. Out of our time together, there were several ideas shared on how to care well for the young players that often enter into the sport with promise, but so few actually make it into the professional ranks.

It was a trip well worth the time and investment to learn more from the chaplains across the pond that have been working for some time in a post-Christian context. I look forward to learning more and seeing how Soccer Chaplains United will be able to brace for the cultural shift that is already happening within soccer in America.

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