The annual NFL Super Bowl, like all big, televised sports contests, offers a great opportunity for churches to gather members and guests and engage in fellowship, fun festivities and even some outreach ministry, while also enjoying the big game. For many, it's also a good time to exercise the power of intercessory prayer.
This Sunday evening's contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and that other team (the New England Patriots) maximizes that opportunity, thanks to local excitement and pride in the home team. Super Bowl LII (that's 52) on February 4, will be played at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. The Eagles finally return to the pinnacle of NFL competition after a 14-year absence; and some churches are getting ready to host championship viewing parties.
One of our churches, Wharton-Wesley UMC in Philadelphia will continue a 23-year tradition of hosting a "family night of fun we call Souper Bowl," according to Lenora Thompson, a church leader and new chairwoman of the conference's Connectional Table. The church invites members and guests to come enjoy not only the Super Bowl together, but also pre-game activities, including trivia quizzes, snacks and fellowship. They also invite attendees to bring cans of soup and $5 to donate to its community food ministry, called Helping Hands. "We distribute food at the end of every month to about 60 families," said Thompson. The annual event is sponsored by the church's United Methodist Men. Doors open at 5:30 PM.
Other churches--like Covenant UMC in Springfield and First UMC in Phoenixville-will sponsor
Souper Bowl of Caring
outreach campaigns, started and led by youth in churches across the nation. These
major anti-hunger efforts solicit and collect tons of non-perishable food, during and prior to Super Bowl weekend, to donate to community food banks and other charities. Dozens of
Eastern PA Conference churches
participate each year.
Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com faith and religion reporter Kristin Holmes contacted us Tuesday looking for Philadelphia-area churches that plan to do anything special for Super Bowl Sunday, from wearing football jerseys at Sunday services to hosting viewing parties and more.
If your church--wherever it is located in the Eastern PA Conference--will celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in any special way, including Souper Bowl of Caring food collections, please let us know by Thursday,
so we can let Kristin know and also publish information in NEWSpirit Digest and on our conference website.
And finally, FYI, a recent article in the South Jersey Courier Post,
On a wing and a prayer, South Jersey churches offer Super Bowl support
, reports that some Philadelphia Eagles players, both past and present, attend church in South Jersey. "Their outspoken brand of faith has forged deep bonds with pastors and congregations here even among those who don't follow sports," reports Doug Horton, co-host of sports radio program,
"Faith on the Field
Pastor Ted Winsley Sr. (
) has ministered to the Philadelphia Eagles for the past 17 seasons, serving as a Christian mentor for players who seek one, according to the article. He
says the team's growing "spiritual legacy" has brought more media attention to the faith of players like Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz and others.
"Winning has earned them a platform for their faith," he asserted, "and that's the force driving them to work hard on and off the field.... It's not about the money or the personal glory. There's a real hunger for God on the team. These guys really want to live for him."
Winsley, pastor of The Family Church in Voorhees, N.J., and team chaplain for 17 years, will lead the prayer for the Eagles prior to their game on Super Bowl Sunday. Listen to his uplifting comments on the team's active faith and prayerful outlook in the
online Courier Post article