Peter Nelson is a retired Church of Christ Minister, AIS chaplain and a sport writer panellist. These are his own words.
I was born in Launceston in 1943 and had the privilege of being brought up in a wonderful home and extended family and church. Through my church I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ and sought to follow Him ever since.
After completing high school in Launceston I secured clerical employment with Coats Patons (Wool) and played a variety of local sports.
When 27 I relocated to Melbourne entering The College of the Bible (Churches of Christ) for 4 years to train for the Ministry and served eight years with two churches: Malvern Caulfield and South Yarra. Then I went to Mildura for 4 very good years in ministry in the Sunraysia district, followed by 11 years at Ainslie Churches of Christ in Canberra. The following 12 years I ministered with the Austral-Asian Chinese Church (Ainslie Church of Christ building).
I met my wife Lea who is from Cape Town South Africa in Melbourne when at Malvern and married in 1981. This has naturally meant many trips back to South Africa and on one occasion a stopover in Israel (Holy Land) on our return on a South African Airlines offer. I've also visited other European countries.
1991 to the AIS
In 1991 Dr Mark Tronson appointed me as Chaplain at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) replacing the inaugural chaplain Reverend Ken Bond who was moving. These continuing 23 years have been a highlight of my ministry with a non-churched community. Very few ministers have such an opportunity which has been enormously beneficial to me and I trust to those whom I've served in elite sport.
I've always had an interest in sport as sport is a microcosm of life and having been a foundation Panellist and now solely a Sport Panellist, I have taken a great interest in their articles as they speak not only of sport but of life and experiencing another aspect entirely — a national sub-culture. I enjoy understanding what the sport writers convey to the reader.
The AIS has provided a special kind of window for reflection on sport with highs and lows and keenly focused ambition.
I've worked very closely with Mark and have a great respect for what he has done in establishing chaplaincy across the board in all sports since 1982, and his Australian cricket chaplaincy from 1984 and founding the Basil Sellers athlete respite facility in Moruya in 1992 — these achievements are recognised from the highest official to the newest athlete.
Timeout in Moruya was perhaps the single most important factor in making effective my ministry as the AIS chaplain. Athletes over many years visited Moruya and were ministered to by Mark and Delma Tronson. Mark gave them a bible talk and handed sports New Testaments to each young athlete. Many a time when doing room inspections these bibles were found beside their beds. It has been my privilege on many occasions at their initiative to speak with these young athletes when returning from Moruya.
When Mark was away there were times I went to Moruya and gave the bible talk to the athletes. I arranged for various international visiting athletes to visit Moruya. This Moruya excursion became a highlight for all elite athletes in their stay at the AIS, I cannot emphasise this enough. Meeting Mark's great support Mr Basil Sellers AM on his visit to the AIS was very important for as Mark reminded me again today, that the Scriptures exclaim, the Lord sent Basil Sellers for "such a time as this".
Working so closely with Mark has been a tremendous experience, but not only me, his 18 years founding and heading the sport ministry helped chaplains received wisdom, insight and encouragement. Mark stamped the validity of chaplaincy upon the Australian sporting community from Cricket, AFL, NRL, NBA, Tennis, Motor Racing, Soccer, Rodeo, Golf ... all the way to the Olympics.
Mark attended an AIS breakfast and numbers of the most senior AIS athletes whispered in my ear with awe: "Mark Tronson is here!" Even today Barry Barnes who is responsible for the overall athlete assistance program (former Boomers Basketball Olympic Coach) has Mark's huge painting in his office, an art work celebrating the 25th anniversary of the AIS.
Mark appointed me as a chaplain to the Atlanta Olympics and the Sydney Olympics and no person deserved the accolades as much as Mark and Delma when in 2009 they were awarded the Olympic Ministry Medal by Carl Lewis the Olympian of the Century.
The highlights of my AIS sport chaplaincy ministry has been the 1996 Atlanta Olympics chaplaincy, the 2000 Sydney Olympics chaplaincy and the 2008 Melbourne Commonwealth Games chaplaincy. Atlanta proved to be a milestone for me in athlete ministry, I was the only non-American, so much good came out of that ministry as I was made so welcomed by the Australian Olympians.
When Mark and Delma in complete exhaustion — moved on in 2000 after 18 years of founding and leadership — he left a strong functioning ministry for others to build upon.
I retired from Churches of Christ ministry when I turned 67 and serve at the AIS facility ministering to a number of sports. I have served on the AIS Ethics Committee since 1996 and have been called upon to give evidence. Over all these years I have been invited to say Grace at many AIS and Olympic breakfasts.
It is a delight and privilege to be a member of the Well-Being Australia National Board now serving Mark and Delma in their fresh and engaging ministries and as a Panellist for the annual sport writer awards in Mark's young writer ministry. We are now retired to Batemans Bay, NSW south coast.
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 mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html