It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, and classroom 27 is filling up for another Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. Students exchange friendly greetings and helps themselves to complimentary cookies until senior Justin DePalatis, FCA’s co-president, begins the meeting by thanking everyone for coming.
After a few years of latency, FCA is once again making an impact on its members, the campus and the world.
Sophomore Thomas Poole, the group’s second co-president, suggests the possibility of FCA becoming involved in a project to donate books to Africa, and he receives a positive response from the group.
Every week, a speaker shares a thought-provoking message about the way that faith has impacted his or her life. On this particular Tuesday, the speaker is Grant Combs, the youth pastor from Sanctuary Bible Church. He begins by asking the group about what endurance sports they enjoy, which leads to some joking and laughter.
The mood becomes more serious and contemplative, however, as he equates life to a long run or a difficult bike ride.
“Life is much more a marathon than it is a series of sprints,” Combs says.
FCA meetings have not always gone this smoothly. Last year, when DePalatis restarted the club, few people regularly attended meetings.
“Junior year is a very strenuous year,” he explains. “I wanted to lead FCA, but at the same time, I had a ton of stuff going on. This year, my workload is a little lighter, and it’s given me more time to think about it, make connections with people who want to speak and tell other people about it.”
These efforts have certainly paid off, as the increased size and presence of the club attest.
The Africa idea is the first major outreach project that the FCA has worked on this year, and though it’s still in its early stages, everyone is excited about the possibilities.
“One of the characteristics of Christianity is that it encourages people to be servants,” says club adviser, and Justin DePalatis’ father, Dale DePalatis. “I would love to see the group develop more of that.”
The origins of FCA at CHS go back to 1992, Dale DePalatis’s first year as an English teacher here, when two students asked if they could have a Bible study in his classroom at lunch. Since then, there has usually been some sort of Christian group on campus.
“The spiritual side of people is very important,” the English teacher explains. “I wanted a place where kids could come, express their faith, grow and develop.”
Justin DePalatis always closes the meeting with a prayer.
“Whether you’re a Christian or not, I think it’s important to have someone to rely on, to help you,” he says. “For me, that’s God.”