Christian Athlete Circles Offers College Athletes an Open and Affirming Community to Belong, Grow, Pray, and Act

Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina
Posted Mar 1, 2022

Belong, Grow, Pray, and Act, the four pillars of Christian Athlete Circles, define their goal of being a welcoming and affirming faith community for college athletes.

For years, CAC has been listening to the stories and experiences of Christian athletes, coaches, and athlete allies. Recently, CAC held listening sessions with Vanderbilt Divinity School alumni and dialogue with campus chaplains, the Rev. Mary Cat Young, the Rev. James Franklin, and the Rev. Shannon Spencer, all whom expressed a deep desire for an athlete ministry rooted in Christian tradition, centered on the Jesus Movement, and unapologetically open and affirming of all identities.

Created in the Fall of 2021, Christian Athlete Circles is a collaboration between The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina and The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Co-founded by Kelsey Davis, Campus Missioner for UNC Asheville and WCU in the Episcopal Diocese of WNC and Georgia McKee, student of Divinity at Wake Forest University, the ministry aims to provide a space for student athletes to feel empowered and secure in their identities as both athletes and Christians.

Kelsey Davis, Director of Blue Ridge Service Corps and Campus Missioner for UNCA & WCU, Episcopal Diocese of WNC

Both former athletes and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Davis and McKee were familiar with the stress, pressure, and expectations student athletes often face on college campuses. They have always dreamed of having a space in which to belong as their full selves, grow as leaders, deepen their Christian faith, learn spiritual practice, and engage in social activism. Georgia and Kelsey noted that many faith-based campus communities forced athletes to choose between allyship and their Christian identities. Christian Athlete Circles was born out of the desire to not only provide student athletes with an intentional, affirming, and diverse community, but also to empower students to create these communities themselves with the support of spiritual leaders and campus chaplains.

Kelsey shared, “Our deep hope is to open space for Christian athletes to be nourished and loved as their full and authentic selves, accompanied on their faith journey. I hope that as Circles are born, they are rooted in love and openness, ready to always welcome the next person, and ever widening as there is always room at God’s table.”

The mission of Christian Athlete Circles is to “provide training and coaching, guidelines, curriculum, resources, and spiritual mentorship to anyone looking to start a Circle on their campus.” Inherently student-centered, the ministry will seek to pilot at 3 universities

– Warren Wilson College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University. At each of these universities, existing campus ministries will identify student-athlete leaders to be provided resources, training, and mentorship on how to create their own Circles and gather a CAC community.

Georgia McKee, student of Divinity at Wake Forest University

Georgia believes that, “we’ve created the organization that we needed when we were athletes. Our stories of needing assistance navigating political and social tension, along with the multitude of difficulties that come with being an athlete, are not uncommon. The spiritual and intersectional identities of an athlete have to be tended to just as much as the physical.

Up until now, queer and progressive-leaning athletes have not had a community where they could explore and express their faith. Christian Athlete Circles believes that the practices of the Christian faith—at its best—provide people of all identities a way to flourish and belong on and off the field.

Long-term, Christian Athlete Circles hopes to expand outside of North Carolina and provide resources to all kinds of college campuses. As the ministry continues to grow and connect with students across the country, Christian Athlete Circles is eager to connect Christian athletes across college campuses, growing an interconnected network of communities centered on identity, faith, and justice.

To learn more about Christian Athlete Circles, please visit