Christian Fellowship Day returns to Petco Park on Sunday, Aug. 14

Thousands of local Christians are headed for Petco Park Aug. 14 to enjoy an afternoon doubleheader and participate in an annual tradition called the Day of Fellowship. After watching the Padres battle the Philadelphia Phillies, fans will hear the testimonies of various Christian players, coaches and perhaps even an umpire or two.

Padres chaplain, Doug Sutherland, is organizing this year’s event with the help of Alexx Varga, and both are anticipating another strong turnout. Sutherland is encouraging local believers and non-believers alike to be a part of this nine-year San Diego tradition. With many Lake Elsinore Storm fans expected to be on hand to watch their team take on the High Desert Mavericks in the second game of the doubleheader, a good turnout is all but assured.

The growing number of strong Christian players on the Padres roster should make for an interesting afternoon.

“Since I have been the chaplain, this is the strongest team we’ve had in terms of attendance at our chapel and interest in the Christian perspective on life,” Sutherland said. “My two key guys for this event are [Padres All-Star] Jake Peavy and [ace reliever] Scott Linebrink. [Padres third base coach] Rob Picciolo also comes out ever year and shares his testimony.

“I can’t speak for these guys, but last year Trevor Hoffman came out and I think I can count on Chris Hammond. I don’t know exactly who else will be there, but Ryan Klesko has done it in the past and Rudy Seanez did it when he was with the Padres before and so did Woody Williams,” he said.

Peavy and Williams see the event as a great opportunity.

“You live life not for yourself, but for the Lord and you put yourself in his hands. I think that is the message we all have to spread,” Williams said. “We have a great opportunity here along with [chaplain] Doug Sutherland and our chapel leaders to spread that message.

“We try to show people our priorities in life. It is a stage where you can express your views on life and express your spiritual faith to a lot of people. You can show them that you are living for something other than just baseball games. I think it is important when we get that opportunity to take advantage of it,” the veteran pitcher added.

Peavy said he’s been involved with Day of Fellowship since 2002.

“I have had lots of opportunities as a big-league player to get in front of a lot of people and share my faith,” Peavy said. “This is an awesome event. It really gets people out. We’ve had great crowds ever since I have been involved with it and that is encouraging for us to see. Hopefully, it will make a difference.”

The Padres play the Phillies beginning at 1:05 p.m. Last year’s event was held in the “Park in the Park” area beyond right field. Plans are for a platform to be set up near home plate for this year’s activities, said Varga.

“After hearing the testimonies of the players, I will give a short gospel presentation,” Sutherland said. “Then there will be response cards for people that indicate an interest or who have made the decision for Christ. I just hope the churches will take advantage of this,” he added.

People wanting to attend don’t need special tickets. However, for information about group rates, contact Varga at (858) 518-2629.

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