Pastor Beau Abernathy of the Lawrence Evangelical Free Church was all set to put on a "victory celebration" this weekend to mark the church's membership growth, but it wasn't long before somebody popped his bubble.
Someone pointed out that the celebration, scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, would have been held at the time when football fans would be rooting for either the Buffalo Bills or the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI. Kickoff is about 5:15 p.m.
"SEVERAL FOLKS in the congregation came up to me and said, `Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?' They were really watching out for me," Abernathy said.
Now, instead of celebrating the church's membership growth, Abernathy is going to invite some Kansas University international students to his family's home to watch the game on ``Super Sunday.''
"It's a way to introduce them to American cultism, er, culture," Abernathy said. "Instead of competing with it, we're using the Super Bowl as a catalyst to bring people into the church. It's a great opportunity."
The Rev. Mark Clevenger, cleric at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, said the church doesn't have any evening meetings this Sunday. Nevertheless, he said, Episcopal ministers have to be especially careful in their planning this time of year.
"THERE'S A canonical rule that the church's annual meeting must take place in the month of January," Clevenger said. "If you're a rookie priest and someone hasn't told you that, it could be very dangerous."
But some local ministers say they aren't making special plans to avoid going head-to-head with the Super Bowl.
Paul Gray, a pastor at Heartland Community Church, said the church's regular 7 p.m. Sunday service, which is the church's only service, will go on as usual.
"If the Chiefs were playing, we might have altered our time," Gray said. "You've got to be sensitive to where people are coming from."
Jim Taylor, pastor at Indian Hills Church of God, said, "I love to watch the Super Bowl myself." But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Taylor said, he won't feel that he's missing out during the church's 6 p.m. Sunday service.
"If it weren't for the VCR, I might be in real trouble," he said.
ON THE other hand, Taylor said, "As much as I love football, the outcome of this game will not make a difference in light of eternity. We should be more concerned about playing the game of life."
Taylor said he doesn't plan to tailor his sermon to incorporate a Super Bowl theme. However, he is working on a sermon about the 10 commandments, and one that says "Thou shalt put no other Gods before me" seems rather relevant this time of year, Taylor said.