Minnesota bishop makes Christmas Eve football game opportunity for evangelism
Dec. 22, 2004
by Victoria Rebeck*
Dec. 24, and people in Minnesota and Wisconsin will think of a major
event. But they may not be thinking of Christmas Eve.
National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings will battle their rivals,
the Green Bay Packers, for the Northern Division Championship at 2 p.m.
on Dec. 24. This has stirred up significant conflict among the Minnesota
faithful—those faithful to both Christ and their beloved Vikes.
Bishop Sally Dyck
“As soon as I took the office of bishop in
Minnesota on Sept. 1 of this year, I heard complaints about the
Christmas Eve Vikings game,” she said. “I realized that, at that point,
nothing could really be done to change the scheduling. But I began to
think that this could actually be an opportunity rather than a
Instead of chiming in with the grumblers,
Bishop Dyck is encouraging Minnesota United Methodists to join her and
her husband, the Rev. Ken Ehrman, in Christmas caroling to Vikings fans
as they enter Minneapolis’s Metrodome stadium on Christmas Eve.
is a great opportunity for us to share the good news of the joy and
light of Christmas,” she said. “This is a message that can be meaningful
At least 20 Minnesota United Methodists have
already given advance notice of their intention to carol. Many more are
expected to show up that day. The carolers will meet at noon on
Christmas Eve at the new light-rail commuter train station across from
the Metrodome, put on buttons to wish passersby a Merry Christmas from
the people of the United Methodist Church and grab buckets of candy
canes to distribute to the fans. Depending on the temperature—which
promises to be in the single digits—the carolers will wander the area
and sing for up to two hours.
After hearing many objections
from church people about the game, reporters across Minnesota were
fascinated with Dyck’s positive approach and featured it in
follow-up coverage to their initial stories on the complaints.
Dyck began her service in Minnesota by establishing reaching the
unchurched as a priority. She told Minnesota United Methodists that she
planned to be “the bishop of the ‘nones’”—those who check “none” on
surveys that ask religious preference. The Christmas caroling event is
one of the first steps she is taking to nurture a culture of hospitality
and welcome among Minnesota United Methodists.
not a protest but an opportunity to share something we value,” she said.
“What better place than downtown intersections, where thousands of
people will be walking?”
*Rebeck is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference.
Some Christians have denounced the National Football League for
scheduling a football game on a significant church holiday. The
controversy drew front-page news coverage. However, Bishop Sally Dyck of
the United Methodist Church in Minnesota saw the game as a golden
News media contact: Linda Green or Tim Tanton, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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