The Fleet of the Ancient Trinity Disciples - or the ATD Fleet, for short - was founded in November 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and the extensive lockdown measures across the U.S. and the world. Because of the commitment of a handful of founding members and new recruits, the ATD Fleet has progressed to Tier 19 in less than a year with projects rapidly moving forward.
I recently connected with Ambassador Koval, one of our founding members, and Rear Admiral Mansell, one of our newest recruits, and discussed their interest in Star Trek (and Star Trek Online) and what membership in the ATD Fleet has meant to them. Below is an abridged version of the discussion:
Ambassador Bar'een: Thank you both for taking the time to talk with me and think through these questions. Getting us started, please tell me a little about what drew you to Star Trek - what intrigues you about it, what is the interest.
Ambassador Koval: That would be my dad. My dad grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars and I took a liking to both right away. I enjoyed the positive outlook of the Federation; the honorable code of the Klingons; and I always have had a soft spot for the behind-the-scenes, alone, and isolated Romulans. I think I see a little bit of me in each of them that I can connect with. I have always enjoyed the writing and story of Star Trek as well.
Bar'een: Roddenberry did have a hopeful view for the future of mankind and wrote the initial characters to be relatable to 20th century humanity. What about the game drew you in?
Koval: It was one of the only games I bought on release day and one of the only ones I have paid-to-play during those early years. It was an instant like for me. Being able to go out and explore and meet new people that enjoyed the same thing I did. It did not take long before I met and made some friends in-game. Some I even still have as friends on Facebook, but sadly like all good things, some of those have ended with them not being on the game anymore.
Bar'een: MMORPGs really take it up a notch with social gaming, huh? Rear Admiral Mansell, tell us a little about you and what has drawn you into the Star Trek universe.
Rear Admiral Mansell: I am in my senior year of college working towards my ministry degree, and as part of that direction, I feel led to spread the gospel over a digital medium as well. One of the largest digital community platforms outside of social media is an MMORPG. One of my favorite MMORPGs is Star Trek Online because it encourages you to interact with one another on Task Force Operations and missions. The game gives the ability to form and join fleets that you can interact with on a more inclusive basis rather than just being jumbled into random teams. I wanted to join a fleet with a mission for ministry. There were very few already made to choose from.
Bar'een: You segued nicely. You discovered the ATD Fleet by searching in-game and then connected through the Facebook page. What is it about the ATD Fleet that is unique?
Mansell: The Fleet Officers are well organized and lead and manage their assigned activities and responsibilities. For instance, the ATD Fleet offers forum boards and Discord for communication and also a Facebook page, which was developed, organized, and now maintained by one officer - Koval - who works well alongside the others...
Koval: And now an Instagram page! Send along the screenshots and memes, and I will make sure they are posted!
Mansell: Those platforms are great outlets for Christian outreach and communicating the goals and other information about the ATD Fleet. In addition to the regular in-game projects, the ATD Fleet shares fellowship with each other and participates in devotionals, which is a good starting point in-line with a mission for ministry.
Bar'een: When you joined the ATD Fleet, you shared that you had searched for other Christian fleets and that the others did not seem as serious as what we presented. Now that you have been a member for a while, what keeps you engaged?
Mansell: The ATD Fleet schedules activities on a regular basis, including meet-and-greets, co-operative events, and Bible study. Does not matter which one I participate in, there is an evident purpose for development, training, and team-building. One of the most impressive aspects of the ATD Fleet is this attempt to bridge the gap between social acceptance and evangelism. The recent devotionals serve to encourage and educate us on tactfully delivering and expressing the Gospel without attracting hostility or reprimand from others. Evangelism is one of the hardest endeavors of our mission because religion, in general, is seemingly not as widely tolerated when openly advertised.
Bar'een: Koval, what about you? With all the other opportunities to join a fleet on STO, why the Ancient Trinity Disciples?
Koval: After playing STO for 11 years, being a part of the ATD Fleet is the first time I have been able to combine the game and my faith all in one - being able to connect with others who believe the same, or at least close to the same, as I do and enjoy the trek together. It was something I would not have thought of putting together on my own and thankfully you approached me with the idea and I instantly agreed and was happy to help with it.
Bar'een: You have been instrumental in building the ATD Fleet into what it is today. With the lockdowns from COVID waning, what keeps you engaged with the ATD Fleet?
Koval: Even though it is a small group now, I look forward to growing it and finding others who are looking to do the same thing we are. It may not be easy and will take a lot of work, but it is something I look forward to and will work towards as much as I can and hope everyone else feels the same way. In this still small group, I see a potential to do great things in letting others know about our faith and becoming a close knit community - a community that is there for each other and supports and uplifts one another in the game and outside the game as well.
Mansell: Yes, community. Fellowship is the greatest trait of the ATD Fleet because we are able to invite others and discuss topics reasonably and civilly - whether or not religious in nature. These often lead to opportunities for discernment, sharing and adding valuable knowledge of Scripture, and joining a combined effort on professing our faith and testimonies.
Bar'een: Thanks again, guys, for sharing with me. Anything else you would like to share?
Koval: To put it simply - I enjoy both Star Trek and participation in the ATD Fleet because of what they represent and, like my faith, the hope they create for everyone involved.