On Friday, June 30, Spooky Nook Sports Complex will host many tournaments, including several for young local athletes.
The four-day Pentecostal Conference of North American Keralites will include sporting contests. Keralans are southwest Indians.
The 38th annual conference will be held at the Lancaster County Convention Center from June 29 to July 2.
The conference draws international attendees and features religious speakers discussing faith in a new North American city each year. Organizers believe Lancaster County’s pastoral setting and tourism attractions, like Sight & Sound Theatres, make it ideal.
Spooky Nook, the nation’s largest indoor sports facility, has two Lancaster County sites, which attracted organizers. Spooky Nook Manheim will host conference sports. (East Petersburg has Spooky Nook LANCO, and Hamilton, Ohio has a third facility.)
Some religious conferences have sports days. The sports aspect was included to make PCNAK more family-friendly and encourage youngster involvement, according to organizers.
Conference organizers are planning basketball, indoor soccer, and badminton.
“It’s not just a prayer meeting. Sony Babu, PCNAK sports coordinator, stated, “It’s also a fun time of fellowship with everyone… with a little bit of competition to give them a little more opportunity to come and participate.” “Church future is kids.”
Babu’s desire for youth participation stems from his childhood conference experience. After participating over 10 times, he hopes people would appreciate the religious community like he did.
“When [they] see [their] friends growing in their faith, hopefully that will motivate the younger kids,” Babu added. “Seeing people I looked up to as a kid in higher roles inspires me to do more for the future.”
Over 20 teams pre-registered a week before the conference. Most are with churchmates.
More than simply their teammates will be familiar—many participants will have met churchgoers from various congregations.
Babu likens the meeting to a summer family reunion, when everyone gets to know one other.
“Most of these people kind of grew up together,” Babu remarked. “Every year, they see all their friends and family from different states. It’s a chance to reconnect.”
Sports competition winners will get prizes, just like at any family event.
Registration indicates 4,000–5,000 conference attendees this year. The largest South Asian Christian convention in North America is unique.
The four days will include 12 speakers and a sports day.
Babu hopes they use this time to develop their spirituality. “We’re growing. They should appreciate it and become an extended family.”