With the London Olympics just 14 days away, Olympic Ministry Award Receiptent Mark Tronson, the chairman of Well-Being Australia is writing a weekly series of articles leading up to this world gala event which encapsulates the nations of the world in sport, politics, economics, culture, benevolency and religion.
Angela Harris was an Australian LA Olympic finalist in the 100 metre Freestyle and a member of the 4 x 100 Freestyle and 4 x 100 Medley relay teams both of which were pipped for medals.
The Commonwealth Games was where Angela Harris established herself as a world renown swimmer competing in both Brisbane 1982 and Edinburgh 1986.
Angela won Silver in both these Commonwealth Games in her favoured 100 metre Freestyle and a swag of Bronze medal in the various relay teams. Few can forget the disappointment of the 4 x 100 metre Freestyle relay team in Brisbane who were well on their way to win Gold when they were disqualified for an early break.
Swimming is in the family and with husband Garry, a COC Pastor, having raised three daughters all of whom are passionate in their sport.
Mark Tronson the retired Australian cricket team chaplain of 17 years, has been a guest in their home on numerous occasions for over 30 years. He challenges the family as to how boring training must be, swimming up and down in laps of the pool (compared to hockey, his sport) where upon in traditional Aussie style he's howled down in objections from the floor!
He explained that Angela gained national notoriety in the early 1980s where she refused to be photographed in any sponsors clothing that implied anything for which she was morally opposed.
Post Swimming Ministry
In her post swimming life Angela Harris has devoted herself to Christian ministry, largely in the arena of sport ministry and in public evangelism speaking at outreach events.
In this, Angela served for some years as the AIS Diving Chaplain in Brisbane, then as a chaplain in the Atlanta Olympic Village and then turned her ministry toward Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI) which seek out former Olympians who are Christians for evangelism, in one to one ministry with current Olympians and the wider public during Olympic Games'.
LWFCI founded and led by Dr Sam Mings for 35 years have gained wisdom and respect within the Olympic movement as many former Olympians in senior roles within the movement provide a very positive familiarity.
LWFCI has its own Olympic family for which Angela has participated since 2000 in Sydney. Beijing 2008 particularly engaged Angela Harris with the swimmers and London 2012 once again will be Olympian focused.
Mark Tronson noted that the ministry within the Olympic Village as a chaplain and that with LWFCI 'Chaplains to the World's Olympians' are very different. Angela Harris has been a chaplain in both situations.
Two different levels
The Olympic Village chaplains many of whom are experienced 'sport chaplains' are governed by very strict protocols whereas LWFCI have no such restrictions and being part of the Olympic family in their own right as former Olympians are engaged at a more intimate level.
Both levels of Christian Ministry are vital. Dr Mark Tronson established the Sports and Leisure Ministry in 1982 is association with Heads of Churches placing chaplains in Australia's professional sports (1982-2000) then became Chairman of Well-Being Australia, specialising in athlete respite.
He was himself an Olympic chaplain in LA 1984 and appointed the Australian Olympic Chaplains to each subsequent Olympic Village ministry thru to Atlanta 1996. In February 2000 he was invited to the IOC in Lausanne Switzerland to assist staff develop a Protocol of Ideas on Religious Services for Olympic host cities, a document which he sends to each subsequent Olympic host city.
Mark Tronson also become involved in LWFCI ministry in Sydney 2000 and recognises how both these Olympic chaplaincy ministries are vital. In 2009 he and his wife Delma were awarded the Olympic Ministry Medal by Olympian of the Century Carl Lewis orchestrated by Dr Sam Mings of LWFCI.
Angela Harris as part of the LWFCI London ministry "Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach" is engaged in a remarkable evangelism ministry that seeks the lost to the Salvation of Jesus Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html