SUMMERSIDE – Super Bowl Sunday is a big day, even in the House of the Lord.
© Ryan Cooke/Journal Pioneer
Members of the Central Street Christian Church huddle around at the front of the church, led by Pastor Murray Spencer, second from left. Spencer invited the congregation to wear their favourite jerseys on Super Bowl Sunday.
Sprinkled throughout the congregation at Central Street Christian Church were the bright and vivacious colours of the churchgoers’ favourite National Football League teams. Standing at the altar, Pastor Murray Spencer quarterbacked the service in his New England Patriots’ blue and red, with Tom Brady’s number 12 displayed proudly on his chest.
“We wanted to try something new,” he said afterwards, as the congregation gathered at the back of the church, munching down on various Super Bowl party snacks. “This was an idea we had to keep things fresh and casual, and bring a little fun to the church.”
As a young pastor, Spencer likes to keep things entertaining with his services. When he heard some of the congregation talking about a website called Church for Men, which suggests ways to get men interested in the Christian faith, he decided to go with it.
“In our churches, men seem to be the missing factor. So this was suggested to us, and we figured ‘Why not?’”
It wasn’t just the men in the congregation who went along with the idea, however, as several women and children came dressed in their favourite colours as well.
Growing up in Fredericton, N.B., Spencer was always a fan of anything sports and anything Boston. He’d often take trips to the American city to watch his favourite teams – the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots.
As a youth minister, Spencer came to Summerside 10 years ago to help out at the Central Street church. He then spent the next few years in the States attending school. When the job came up in Summerside in November, Spencer jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s a great community, a good hockey town,” he said. “It’s small enough to have that small-town feel, but big enough to have lots to do.”
With a wife and two young children, moving seemed like it would be a tough task. However, upon arriving at the church in a U-Haul the first day, the Spencer family was met by a dozen churchgoers ready to help.
“I can’t say enough about the people here, and how quickly they’ve embraced me and my family.”
Events like Super Sunday will likely become more common, especially with the NHL playoffs coming up. It’s all a part of Spencer’s mission to make church as enjoyable for others as it is for him.
“It’s time we get over the stereotypical thing about going to church,” he said. “People often think they have to come to church and sit on their hands the whole time. But it should be fun.”
The only thing that could have made this Sunday more fun for the pastor would be a Patriots appearance in the big game.
“It would have made this so much better if the Patriots had made the Super Bowl,” he laughed. “I tried (praying), but He wasn’t helping Brady any a couple weeks ago. Can’t win them all.”