The Paris High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes held the annual Field of Faith fellowship and worship service Wednesday evening, Oct. 10, at the school.
The student-led event provides a non-denominational fellowship time and a worship service for students, faculty, parents and the entire community. It is part of a nationwide effort to spark a spiritual movement for God.
Senior students and FCA presidents Bryce Gladding and Emily Roush spearheaded the planning of this year’s event with the help from numerous fellow student volunteers and faculty sponsor Missy Tingley.
Pizza and drinks were served at 6 p.m. in the Tiger Den followed by a worship service at 7 p.m. in the Paris Center of Fine Arts.
“It is basically a short church service for the entire community with singing, praising and praying along with student testimonies and several guest speakers,” said Tingley.
Eastern Illinois FCA Area Representative Guthrie Gardner opened the worship service, and two contemporary Christian music songs preceded guest speaker Bethanny Lawson’s message of “Perfect Love.” Students Hannah Bowers, Katrina Strow and Roush gave a testimonies. Roush closed the service.
Special music was by Sean Blair and Bailey Aitken performing “Your Love Defends Me,” Maelynn Redmon performing “The Breakup Song” and Shayleigh Cline and Olivia Theirl presenting “You Say.”
Gladding addressed the crowd as the student speaker, and he was followed by a worship message from Lake Ridge Christian Church Youth Pastor Alicia Cater.
“You don’t have to be an athlete to participate,” said Tingley, noting the FCA sponsors Fields of Faith because student athletes tend to be leaders. “It is for the entire student body and community.”
Tingley noted seniors Roush, who is a member of the cross-country, girls basketball and track teams, along with Gladding who is a member of the boys basketball team and drama club, worked diligently to plan the special service.
“Fields of Faith is important to me because my sister, Kennedy Gladding, was the first FCA leader along with Kaitlyn Block at this school, and this is something she ran and I have now had the honor to help run,” said Gladding. “I wanted to help because I’ve seen the impact it has made for everyone from 12 to 60 years old.”
Roush echoed his sentiments.
“I love any opportunity I get to meet other Christians my age, especially when we get to worship together,” Roush said. “I love the opportunity I get to help connect people from our town and surrounding communities to share our love for Christ. Fields of Faith is a prefect chance to do just that.”
Fields of Faith began in 2002 when Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director, Jeff Martin, prayed about what to do with his heartfelt frustration regarding the temptations and the spiritual battles facing today’s youth. The event went national two years later in 2004 when 6,000 students gathered on school athletic fields throughout Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas for Fields of Faith.
“I was raised in the church, and I have always believed in Jesus. God had blessed me time after time. I am so thankful for all I have accomplished because of him,” said Roush.
Agreeing with her Gladding added, “I also was raised in a church so God has been a heavy benefactor in my life. But it wasn’t until recently I realized that my decisions reflect on my beliefs. So God has opened my eyes to this and has allowed me to see things for how they are and not just how I want to view them.”
While the local event provided the platform for students to stand together to share their faith, both Roush and Gladding hope the effects last much longer than the Wednesday night service.
“I just hope everyone walks away from Wednesday with this new found hope in God,” said Gladding.