Ness takes FCA post; finds sports, ministry a strong tandem

The Ness family: Erin, Tom, Julie, Ryan, Rachel.
The Ness family: Erin, Tom, Julie, Ryan, Rachel.


by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor

Tom Ness, local pastor with a lifelong sports involvement as an athlete, coach and parent, will take a new job with Fellowship of Christian Athletes as an area director on Sept. 1.

“Sports have always been a big passion for me,” said Ness, “and sports are a powerful influence in our society. If I can minister through sports, that’s what I want to do.”
Ness, 48, has served Christ Church of Otsego for 14 years as youth pastor, associate pastor and finally executive pastor. He will become director of the Central Lakes/Northwest Region of FCA.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the past fourteen years … I have so many deep relationships and fond memories,” he stated in a letter to parishioners.

Ness said his watch will include FCA chapters from Elk River to Alexandria. He’ll probably open an office in St. Cloud.

“My thanks, appreciation and congratulations to Pastor Tom,” stated Pastor Greg Pagh of Christ Church, “on his new call to serve with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

Ness and wife Julie, a nurse, are parents of three Elk athletes. Ryan was in soccer, basketball and tennis and currently plays soccer for Bethel. Erin is in soccer, basketball and track. Rachel was conference cross country champion last year and is also in track and summer soccer.

Ness competed in hockey, tennis, and cross country at Fergus Falls High School, and continued his athletic career at Concordia-Moorhead in tennis and cross country, all the while finding inspiration through FCA.

“FCA is the largest sports ministry in the world, and uses the powerful medium of sports to impact lives for Jesus Christ,” Ness stated in his letter. “I’ve been associated with FCA since high school and college, when this ministry made a tremendous impact on my faith.”

FCA was also where he met Julie, who was running for Moorhead State.

Ness was a math teacher and tennis coach at West Fargo (N.D.) High School before attending North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls. After ministerial posts in Sioux Falls and Glencoe, he arrived in Elk River.

Ness coaches in the Three Rivers Soccer Association and has been Elk boys tennis assistant coach in recent years. He and Ryan shared the experience of winning the 2012 state tennis championship under coach Randy Ronning.

Ness has helped lead a summer FCA Youth Sports Camp in Elk River for four years, where Elk varsity athletes have the opportunity to assist college coaches in teaching fundamentals, while leading kids in spiritual huddles.

Ness describes FCA meetings as mixes of socializing and spirituality — games, guest speakers, small-group discussions, and student personal testimonials — that help athletes and coaches grow in their faith. He will remain involved in Elk River’s branch, which is headed by Mike Breyen, a football assistant coach.

Ness said his new role will be promoting FCA throughout his territory via “our traditional four C’s of campus huddles, coaches, camps, and community involvement.”