Fellowship of Christian Magicians bring illusion and gospel to the campus July 8-12

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Balloon-animal making class.
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Juggling class.
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Rabbits and clowns and balloon animals, oh my! Those are just some of the sights around campus this week as the university hosts the Fellowship of Christian Magicians convention, July 8 to 12.

More than 430 people from across the country and Canada are gathering at Lipscomb University this week for the convention, a family-friendly gathering with hundreds of workshops, lectures and special activities aimed at fostering and advancing the art of magic and other performing arts from a Gospel point of view.

Workshops will include but are not limited to drama and storytelling, clowning, ballooning, juggling, plate spinning and ventriloquism.

Special music and magic is included in a nightly program in Collins Alumni Auditorium that is open to the public. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. each evening through Friday.  

FCM will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year at the convention.

Ed Hall, an entertainer from Dayton, Tenn., who performs for events at his church, tries to make it to as many conventions as he can.

“At the FCM, we don’t like to say ‘magic,’ we call it illusion,” Hall said, “because there is a bad kind of magic, but what we do is illusion, and we try to teach that we don’t do miracles. God is the only one who can (do miracles).

“We are just human beings using an art form to share the Gospel of Jesus.”

Workshop instructor Joseph Young from Big Stone Gap, Va., says this is his first convention.

“FCM has been a blessing,” Young said. “What we do with Gospel magic is that we’re going around the world and telling people about Jesus Christ, so not only are we entertainers, but we’re changing the world.”

Founder Stan Adair talks about how FCM began and why it was started in his book, What a Fellowship: A History of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.

“The idea was conceived in 1947 but wasn’t born until six years later. I was directing Youth for Christ in Denver, Colo., and we had as our speaker, a young Christian magician by the name of Dr. Joe Kemp. Joe was from southern California, had been doing magic professionally for a number of years, had accepted Christ as his Savior and was now using his talent to serve the Lord.”

Adair writes that Kemp’s use of “magic” and his incorporation of the teaching of Jesus Christ sparked an idea in him that would eventually become the FCM.

What began as a small group meeting of just 19 magicians in 1953 has grown into an international fellowship of Christian magicians from 49 states, nine Canadian provinces and over 25 other countries today.

Adair will be present at the convention as a guest of honor.

Among other entertainers and magicians who will be present are Robert Hill, FCM Ambassador; Desi Payne, author, producer and performer; and Justin Flom, inventor and magician who recently appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.