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Fellowship of Christian Athletes Founder Don McClanen Dies

02-19-2016

Don McClanen, founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has died. He was 91.

McClanen started the FCA in 1954 to encourage Christians in sports to stand bold in their faith.

"Don's unwavering commitment and vision truly enabled FCA to grow to where it is today, encouraging millions of coaches and athletes to lead lives that are dedicated to Christ," said FCA president and CEO Les Steckel in a statement.

Add your tribute to Don McClanen here.

McClanen was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on February 3, 1925. He was a World War II Navy veteran before attending Oklahoma State University.

McClanen coached high school basketball after graduating. His love for sports and students eventually led him to be appointed as the men's basketball coach and athletic director at Eastern Oklahoma University.

McClanen always had a passion for his faith and his students on and off the court.

He loved to save newspaper and magazine articles about Christian coaches and athletes who publicly professed their faith in Christ. McClanen later shared the articles with his students and began to pray with them before games.

He started these traditions after learning that thirty million American youth had no religious or spiritual training.

McClanen's plan to post articles about Christian athletes in locker rooms blossomed into a full-scale campaign to recognize and encourage Christians in the sports world to commit their work to God.

McClanen eventually joined forces with Dr. Louis H. Evans, Branch Rickey, Dr. Joe Johnston and others to make the Fellowship of Christian Athletes come to life.

The FCA was officially chartered in Oklahoma on Nov. 10, 1954. Two years later the organization relocated to Kansas City where it held its first conference that later evolved into a camp ministry.

By 2015 the conferences hosted more than 96,000 participants from 36 countries attending seven different FCA camps.

The FCA now employs more than 1,300 people, has more than 83,000 donors, and operates in more than 55 different coutnries.

McClanen founded other Christ-centered ministries, including a Washington, D.C. inner-city youth ministry, a church-renewal ministry, and the "Ministry of Money" that teaches Christians how to honor Christ with their finances.

"If there is ever a question about what God can do with a life totally surrendered, called and risking all to follow His vision, we can point to a young basketball coach from Oklahoma, who in 1954 saw the potential of athletes and coaches to share the gospel with the world," Steckel wrote.

"Sixty-two years later, that vision is alive and well through FCA, influencing lives for Christ across the globe - an amazing legacy. We praise God for the life of Don McClanen."

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