Thursday, April 05, 2007

Basketball Defeats Jesus in Overtime

Luc Richard Limoges, Staff Writer

The heavy thump-thump-thump of the basketball has overtaken the sound of the pipe organ as the most-heard sound at Rolling Meadows United Methodist Church in the suburbs of Portland. The church council voted to eliminate one of its worship services because the service was interfering with one of the four weekly open gym sessions.

Last Fall, when the church embarked on a new, third service of worship on Sunday afternoons, some members argued that is was “only fair” that the church also add a time for playing basketball. The only time convenient for the basketball players turned out to be 9:30 on Sunday mornings, right during the first service of worship. Conflicts were immediate and intense.

“My wife kept nagging me about missing worship,” said Rob Cornerstone, one of the gym rats. “I told her that when I’m out there all by myself in the gym, lining up a three-point shot, I feel God’s presence. I don’t need worship for that.”

Another basketball player, Tony Marzipan, not only stopped attending worship, but brought two of his sons with him to the court. “This is family time,” said Marzipan. “I’d rather have my boys with me than in some strange church listening to a lame sermon.”

Perhaps the most critical defection from the worship service is the church’s pastor, John Passe. Passe, who is also the president of Trailblazer Power, a fan club of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, took a lot of heat from his personnel committee for missing the early service. He has a defense, though.

“One of my mentors is the great preacher Fred Craddock,” said Passe. “Craddock says that a minister is not obligated to be everywhere. I lead two services on Sunday. Isn’t that enough?”

The church has also lost a staff member to the change. Associate Pastor Jon Kim resigned when Passe insisted Kim lead and preach at every 9:30 service. Kim, also a rabid basketball player, decided he would quit rather than miss the chance to play ball.

Eventually, the church council decided to take up the matter. A number of members argued that worship should clearly take precedence over a game. The personnel chairperson said that Passe was an employee and should be ordered to attend worship.

Passe, though, had the last word. He produced a chart that showed the average attendance at the basketball sessions compared to worship services. Since 2002, the attendance of the basketball players was more than twice that of the worshipers. The council voted to cancel the early worship service by a margin of 30-2.

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Blogger Stushie said...

Cancelling God in favor of Michael Jordan?

HHmm, sounds as though the church is heading for trouble.

10:51 AM  

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