Local FCA group unites area’s triathlon communityPublished 8:52am Thursday, July 15, 2010
A local couple are combining their faith and love for the sport of running as they start a Huntsville chapter of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Endurance group in the area.
Tom and Laura Gale have organized a Huntsville huddle of the FCA Endurance group after Tom was recently stationed at Redstone Arsenal.
Laura Gale is a native of Huntsville and ran competitively at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
After beng a part of a similar FCA group in Florida, the Gales set a goal of establishing a group in the Huntsville area.
“This was our chance to unify the edurance community and reach out to others,” Tom Gale said. “We felt strongly that God would do great things through FCA in Huntsville.
“Huntsville is a phenomenal running and triathlon community for its size and we are developing a sense of community and friendship among our folks. They want to train, race, eat, study the Word and have fun together.”
The FCA group holds monthly dinner and Bible study at members’ houses. In a social setting, the members enjoy fellowship and finding parallels between endurance sport experiences and their spiritual lives.
The gatherings are very informal – more like a festive party setting – with Bible study and fellowship being the primary focus.
Gale and other runners have found a strong connection between competing and living a Christian life.
“The parallels between running, training and racing can be found throughout the Bible,” Tom Gale said. “Now we get to live that out in front of others.”
A tent that the group sets up at local endurance races has helped get the word out about FCA Endurance in Huntsville. Since starting the local huddle, membership has risen from just one member to more than 20.
During the Cotton Row Run, the biggest road race in the Huntsville area, the group had a ministry tent set up in front of a local running store. The impact was almost immediate as the group started to develop a relationship with local runners in a casual setting.
“We are really a billboard for Christ,” Gale said.
From that one race, the FCA Endurance Huntsville huddle added at least four new members and got the word out to plenty of other interested athletes.
“We really don’t have any goals with regard to membership numbers,” Tom Gale said. “God will take care of the results and right size our huddle for His purposes.”
The Huntsville huddle tries to impact at least one local race a month through the racing season, whether as volunteers, racing as a team, or just displaying theirbright yellow FCA Endurance shirts to show their unity and purpose.
But the main goal is to show endurance sports competitors that there is a connection between the sport and following God’s word.
“Some of our members have always recognized the connection between their love for Christ and their passion for endurance sports,” Tom Gale said. “The huddle has given them an environment to live that out with like-minded individuals. For other teammates, this connection is new to them and they are beginning to see how much more purpose and satisfaction they get when they are training, competing and living for Christ.”
Its a belief that has gained support – and continues to grow – in the local running community.