Connection & Christ

Valerie Cockrell Faith, Spring 2019

Sammy Flores ’81

Of all the roles that Sammy Flores plays, perhaps the most life-changing one is serving as Director of Guest Experience and Connections at Christ Fellowship, a multi-site church in Miami, Florida. For 21 years, he has worked to ensure that everyone who visits has an extraordinary experience that connects them to God.

Young people stay connected to the church because they have a sense of belonging. Discipleship is important. The youth serve in various areas of the church on weekends, including playing or singing in the band or assisting Guest Services. This work helps them to stay more connected even into adulthood.

“I am the worship pastor I am today because of UM,” Sammy stated. When he began at Christ Fellowship, the church was one campus serving around 1,100 people. Under the leadership of Lead Pastor Dr. Rick Blackwood, Christ Fellowship is now a multi-site church serving 8-9,000 people on the weekend. “Our challenge is to make a big church feel small,” said Sammy. People are part of small groups that are more personal. The church also has several global campuses in South America and the Caribbean.

Sammy has great memories of his fulfilling time at UM — the dorm life, the music school, and of course the relationships and friendships made. He is grateful to the professors who believed in him and encouraged him, both in his area of study and as an individual. Sammy struggled in Mr. Robert Sawyer’s class, and Mr. Sawyer told him that just because you fail at something doesn’t mean that you give up. You have to pick yourself up and try again.

In addition to his dedication to work, Sammy is also a devoted husband (Linda Blount Flores ’81), father, grandfather, and triathlete. He started competing in triathlons in 2007 and is currently a USA Triathlon Ambassador and Team Multirace Triathlon Ambassador. This past November he qualified to compete in the Age Group World Championships Long Distance Triathlon in Pontevedra, Spain. He plans to compete this August in the Olympic-Distance National Championships.

Although his high school guidance counselor encouraged him to focus on sports rather than college, Sammy never gave up. He trusted Christ and persevered. He realized that, with God, all things are possible. When Sammy first walked onto campus, he prayed: “Lord, I don’t know what all you have planned for me, but help me every step of the way, to please you and honor you.” That prayer still guides him today.

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Valerie Cockrell