Have you ever been away from home on a long business trip? You can be separated from those who care. After a while, loneliness starts to creep in. You begin to wonder if it’s all worth it.
In 1972, armed with a vision and desire to spread God’s love throughout our industry, Salty Roberts founded the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America (RTCA), a nonprofit 501c3. Every day at 47 racetracks and training facilities across the country (from Puerto Rico to California), the Chaplains, assistant staff members and volunteers of RTCA serve the horse racing industry, letting every worker know they’re not alone.
Recent statistics state the horse racing industry in the U.S. employs over 450,000 people, many of whom have non-traditional work schedules which do not allow them the opportunity to attend traditional church services. Our Chaplaincies not only provide worship services and Bible studies, but also food pantries, clothing banks, recreational activities, referrals for healthcare, recovery programs, educational workshops, transportation, meals, holiday celebrations, and so much more.
No two days are ever the same for a racetrack Chaplain. The Bible calls us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It’s not uncommon for a Chaplain to perform a wedding one day, and then turn around and console family and friends as they grieve the passing of a loved one the next.
Chaplains walk the shedrows and the front offices, checking on everyone’s well-being. They encourage, they console, they pray, and they make the environment exponentially better for everyone. Every day, they assure every worker there’s someone they can depend upon, who will love them unconditionally.
The National RTCA office is the glue that binds together all the different Chaplaincies and programs. The National office helps recruit, screen and place qualified Chaplain candidates. We provide quality continuing education and training for the Chaplains, including a national conference of workshops. The National office makes monies available to local Councils for ministry needs and provides them with resources, including Bibles, devotionals, etc. We help launch new Chaplaincies and Councils, and work with various track managements, horseman groups (like HBPA), and other industry partners (Jockeys Guild, Breeders Cup, AQHA, TCA, etc.) to ensure the Chaplaincy is providing the best services possible to the industry.
Why do we do this? Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
That’s what RTCA does. We love. No matter what you believe, what you need, or what you have, the Chaplains of RTCA are “Ready to Serve” in love.
To support the work of RTCA, go to www.rtcanational.org/give.