GREENFIELD — If you’re ready for some football, there’s no need to be waiting all day for Sunday night.
You can get a little bit of football feel early, long before the Falcons face the Patriots, by stopping by several local churches.
This weekend, on both Saturday and again on Sunday morning, Realife Church will have Football Sunday gatherings, continuing an event begun there last year that includes food, games, prizes and giveaways. A video to be shown will feature National Football League players and coaches who are Christians talking about their faith.
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Junior Aumavae, a former New York Jet, and a former Indianapolis Colts cheerleader are both part of the congregation at Realife; they’ll sign autographs and pose with children for photos.
This year, former Indianapolis Colt Jeris Pendleton will sign autographs, too. A Kids Zone also has been added to this year’s Football Sunday services at 6 p.m. Saturday and at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Sunday.
“We’re simply giving people an excuse to walk through the doors who otherwise might not,” said the Rev. Adam Detamore, lead pastor of the church.
Realife isn’t the only church bringing faith and football together this time of year. Sunday, Faith Baptist Church in Morristown will have its “Soup-er Bowl,” with men participating in a chili cook-off contest and women competing in a bake-off.
Food is also a focus at Mohawk United Methodist Church, where for several years, the church’s youth group and missions team have participated in Souper Bowl of Caring.
From its start in 1990 with 22 South Carolina churches raising $5,700, the effort to use the excitement of the Super Bowl to spur youth to community service has grown. In 2016, more than 6,800 groups helped 5,134 charities by gathering more than $10.5 million in food items and monetary donations and reporting totals at souperbowl.org.
Participating groups donate what they collect to a local charity of choice. Mohawk will send what it gathers to Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in Greenfield.
The soup kitchen will also receive money gathered by children in the Wednesday night AWANA program at Brandywine Community Church. Each year, the four weeks of January are “quarters” for the children to bring change to AWANA meetings and drop it into a clear box with goalposts on top.
After the money is counted, the church cuts a check for the amount, and soup kitchen executive director Jill Ebbert stops by a meeting to accept it. This year, the children are adding to the naerly $2,500 they’ve collected over the previous six years.
Jeff Weiland, commander of the AWANA program, wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter that the project is another chance for the children to look beyond themselves. They’ve also packed shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child and gathered funds for Voice of the Martyrs to buy children’s Bibles.
“I have always looked for ways to help the kids’ world expand,” he wrote, “and see and feel the needs of others both here in our community and around the world.”