by Kara Gibbs—Cedarville, OH
Root, root, root for the home team!
If you’re Scott Kennedy ’97, you do more than root for the team. Kennedy—as chaplain for the Cleveland Indians—teaches, prays with, and encourages this group of professional athletes. Kennedy began his role as chapel leader for the Indians in 2005 and has just completed his third season. He became aware of the position from the previous chapel leader, who attended his church. This eventually led to a phone conversation with a ministry called Baseball Chapel. After talking with the president of Baseball Chapel and getting his current boss’s blessing, Kennedy began ministering to the Indians.
His role as chapel leader involves holding a service before Sunday home games for the two teams and the umpires. Attendance is on a voluntary basis. Kennedy works with two of the players—typically Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd—to secure a time and place for the service. On Fridays, he holds a Bible study for any player who chooses to attend and will offer counsel and spiritual support as well. Additionally, he oversees the chapel leaders of all the minor league teams in the Indians organization—there is a leader in each city with whom he corresponds regarding ministry topics.
Kennedy says, “It might seem glamorous to do this ministry. On the outside it may appear that way, but the reality on the inside is far different. Trying to reach out to people who have it all—wealth, athleticism, status—is a tremendous challenge. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the ministry but there is certainly a gap between perception and reality.”
Kennedy’s wife, Mandy (Orme ‘97) leads a study with some of the players’ wives. “I think they get farther in depth in the first ten minutes of the season than I get all season long.” He adds that, for the most part, he is often on the outside, scrambling and readjusting his approach to get a few precious moments of meaningful interaction. “With all that said, I still believe in what I’m doing.”
As we all know, baseball is seasonal. So, what does Kennedy do the rest of the year? Mainly, he is one of the pastors at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He says, “During fall conference week my junior year, I heard this speaker named Alistair Begg. Little did I know that God would reunite me with him at Parkside seven years later.”
As a pastor, Kennedy oversees numerous ministries: Transit, for people in their 20s to mid-30s; Truelife, for singles over 35; and Raising Up, which shepherds those who are sensing a call to full-time ministry. He also teaches a Life Groups class which meets Sunday mornings and is open to anyone in the church, and he organizes church mission trips. In addition, Kennedy and his wife are working on coordinating young families at Parkside to get better connected through quarterly gatherings, playgroups and various activities.
As if his plate wasn’t full enough, Kennedy says, “I preach, make hospital visits, counsel, lead worship, and, when necessary, take random questions/emails from Truth For Life listeners.” Truth For Life is Alistair Begg’s radio ministry.
Cedarville played an integral role for Kennedy, that has not only served him as a minister, but as the Indians chaplain.
“Mandy and I got married the year after we graduated and words can't express the type of person she is and what she means to me,” he says. “Cedarville prepared us greatly for ministry and gave me opportunities to minister as a student. I developed a love for the pulpit and Bible teaching. The college gave me mentors and friends who have been instrumental in my growth as a Christian man.”
Kennedy graduated with a BA in the Bible pre-seminary program at Cedarville, then attended Trinity Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He currently serves as the transit and singles pastor at Parkside Church. His wife, Mandy, graduated with a BS in nursing. They have been married for nine years, have two children—Olivia, 4, and Peter, 1—and live in Aurora, Ohio.
Learn more about Parkside Church