DENHAM SPRINGS — Those who have worked with outgoing Fellowship of Christian Athletes local director Bob Ingalls laughed and cried as they shared fond memories and presented tokens of affection for a man who led the organization for 20 years.
Ingalls’ service in the ministry that helps coaches and athletes on all levels uphold the Christian faith, was warmly recounted Sunday afternoon as locals gathered at Christ’s Community Church to commemorate Bob and wife Mary Ingalls’ work.
Ingalls, who had spent most of his life as a minister of music in his church, joined the FCA in 1994, when he was in his 50s.
“It’s strange when you change careers in your 50s,” Ingalls said. You wonder, “What is God thinking,” he said.
With the support of his wife, Ingalls has overseen the FCA ministries in three parishes: Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena, which encompasses Southeastern Louisiana University and 42 other schools, including more than 4,000 athletes and coaches. “How time flies,” Ingalls said, “I can’t believe it’s (been) 20 years, but it is.”
The FCA, established in 1954, holds group meetings called “huddles,” reaches out to the community and hosts a variety of training programs, including summer camps for coaches and athletes.
During Sunday’s festivities, a ceremony was held, and attendees reminisced about the Ingalls’ work with the FCA. Ingalls’ favorite hymns, “Victory in Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art” were sung. The FCA presented the Ingalls with a check for $2,000, a gift certificate to Longhorn’s Steakhouse and a commemorative plate. A reception was held in the church.
The master of ceremonies, Hollis Conway, a fellow member of the FCA, told the audience that they were not gathered at a retirement party. “We’re celebrating the transition of (Bob’s) ministry,” Conway said.
“In God’s kingdom, there is no retirement. We’re here to honor the ministry of Bob and Mary Ingalls and the lives they’ve affected through the FCA’s ministry,” said Mike DiMaria, who will fill Ingalls’ position.
“If you see a successful man, behind him is a good woman,” DiMaria’s assistant and the Ingalls’ daughter-in-law, Tenya Ingalls said. “When you see a man successful in ministry, you see a woman who has sacrificed a lot.”
“A man of God and a woman of God working together in the menial things is the expression of ministry,” said Gus Kinchen, another member of the FCA.
“We want to honor the work that’s been done over the past 20 years,” DiMaria said.
Ingalls said he was overwhelmed after the tributes were given and the last song was sung.