The Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization, which has been active in Newton County schools for at least the last couple of decades, has offices on campus at East Central Community College with a new director, Rev. Scott Engle and now supplies FCA ministry for student athletes in nine counties, including Newton County. The last director, Rev. Jonathan Fulcher, recently moved to minister to the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and FCA’s ministry has been enlarged here since then, with about a dozen people working with FCA clubs on high school and college campuses.
Engle came to us from Oneonta, Ala., in the Appalachian foothills, after graduating as valedictorian of his Appalachian high school class in 1987. Born May 5, 1969, to Pete and Betty Engle, he has one brother, Shane, four years younger than he. His parents had both worked for Wrangler, Inc., at the factory that made Wrangler jeans as well as shirts for young Garth Brooks. Betty Engle was killed in an accident when he was a junior in high school and his father passed away in 2016, after living by Scott and his family from 2004 until 2010. He had moved back to Oneonta to live his last years, and Scott’s brother Shane now lives in their home place.
Engle was reared in a family of faithful Christians. His maternal grandfather Alvin Blakely, with his wife Elsie, pastored several churches. His mother played piano and his dad led music for Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. His paternal grandparents, Luther and Leola Engle, were dedicated Baptist church members. Engle was nine years old when he attended a summer revival at Mt. Carmel. He remembered much about the night, specifically that he sat by his father instead of in his usual place by his mother, and that his entire family were there. The evangelist was Bro.Otis Epps. He was saved early in the week, joined the church the last night of the revival and was baptized in People’s Pond.
Engle graduated from a very small high school that had 10 of the 12 boys in his class playing football. He was an All-State football player in 1987, a U.S. Marines Distinguished Scholar Athlete and received the Class 1A Bryant-Jordan Athletic/Scholarship Award. He then came to East Central via football and academic scholarships and stayed to build a family after he met and married Angelia Mechelle Gregory of Decatur.
Scott and Mechelle met the summer between his freshman and sophomore year, when she was a senior in high school, May 1988, and they were married Aug. 5, 1989. He attended ECCC one more year after marriage before hiring on at Sentell Engineering in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He had studied drafting at ECCC so he was hired as a draftsman. Their first child, Christopher Beau, was born in 1990 before they moved to Tuscaloosa, where they stayed a year before returning to Mississippi to work at several positions. Their daughter Cayla Danielle was born in Decatur in 1992.
In 1991, when Beau was one year old, he realized he had drifted away from church attendance and had not been leading the family spiritually to follow God. He rededicated his life and began working in Crossroads Baptist Church in Conehatta, Mechelle’s home church, as they lived with her parents. In 1993, he surrendered to preach.
His first pastorate was Corinth Baptist Church in Kemper County. While there, in 1994, he and Grady Earl Gregory started G & E Construction, which partnership lasted until Grady Gregory retired in 2014. They specialized in commercial concrete and residential homes, having 17 full-time employees at one time.
He pastored Hubert Baptist in Neshoba County, Center Ridge in Newton County, then Crossroads Baptist from 2000 to 2005. At this point, considering the family’s needs, they joined Clarke-Venable Baptist Church, where Scott discovered his love of mission work. Hurricane Katrina had just hit, and the church began ministering “big-time” to the people on the Coast. Engle’s skills were best used in making about twenty mission trips to do construction and help coordinate volunteer labor.
In 2007, Engle was asked to fill the pulpit of Erin Cumberland Presbyterian Church, for a couple weeks, which turned into 13 years, when the church finally found a Cumberland-Presbyterian pastor. From 2008-2010, he was a short-term missionary to New York for the Southern Baptists, building houses and ministering to people, during the summers, as the Mississippi Southern Baptists have a partnership with the Southern Baptists in the Finger Lakes area of New York.
In 2012 Mechelle was diagnosed with invasive ductile carcinoma. Engle said, “Our test was cancer.” He continued, “As we prayed and waited for the diagnosis, Mechelle told me she had peace.” He praised God that they had caught it early, and after chemo then 64 radiation sessions, she took a pill for five years. Since then, she has been cancer free. Mechelle has been an assistant teacher at Newton County Elementary School for 23 years.
Their son Beau graduated from NCHS in 2008, played football at Mississippi College, then transferred to ECCC to major in forestry. He now works with W. Lake Chemical Company in Lake Charles, La. He has twin boys Caston and Carver, who will be seven on May 23.
Kayla is a registered nurse with CMRC in Kemper County, where she is married to Jacob Gilbert from Philadelphia. They have Anna Blake Gilbert, four, and Cara Blair, who will be one in May.
His FCA involvement began with him being a motivational speaker for FCA meetings in Alabama, then chaplain for NCHS football from 2001-2014, then chaplain at Lake for a few years. Bro. Scott told me, “I sold my business. I wanted to finish my race well. Grady had retired. I had choices.” Three years ago, after Coach Bass asked him to speak to the NCHS football team, he remembered, “Mechelle asked if I had considered working for FCA.”
He filled out an application and, after a few months of tying up loose ends, came on board as Area Rep for the three counties of Newton, Scott and Smith. After Jonathan Fulcher moved to Ole Miss, Scott was asked to take on the position of Area Director, leading people who minister to coaches and athletes in nine counties, with 33 high schools, 35 middle schools and three community colleges.
He explained much more than I have room to write here about FCA, but he gave me a quote that FCA uses a lot and told me why it is true. Billy Graham once said, “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” He shared the unique perspective of FCA, when he said, “We don’t have prayer meetings. We have huddles. Christ is the center, without segregation, with all kinds of people.” Rev. Engle shared, “Everything I had done up to this point was preparation for this. This is where I want to stay.”
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