PARKERSBURG - Super Bowl Sunday traditionally has been a chance for family and friends to gather together to watch the big game, but now many churches are getting in on the act to bring people together in fellowship.
The Super Bowl ended Sunday night with the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8.
Churches throughout the area held special gatherings Sunday evening for their members and others to be able to bring people together, have a variety of food and enjoy the big game.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Father Bob Gallagher, of St. Ambrose Catholic Church outside Belpre, gets some soup as the church hosted its “Souper Bowl Party” Sunday evening. Church members brought in food and watched the game together.
Among the churches holding special events Sunday evening were St. Ambrose Catholic Church, outside Belpre, and Fairlawn Baptist Church, outside Parkersburg.
"You always like to get the folks together for something and this is one occasion that is ready-made," said Father Bob Gallagher of St. Ambrose. "It is easy to ask people to come.
"We gather and watch the Super Bowl together and have some fun."
The church had a big screen television set up in its fellowship hall with tables set up all around. The event was called the "Souper Bowl Party," Gallagher said. It was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, with people giving $10 donation to to used for charitable causes the Knights are involved in.
"It helps them out and provides a social event for the parish," Gallagher said. "We have about a dozen homemade soups and other munchies."
Many churchmembers made food and brought it out for the event. A number of people came out, but Gallagher believed more people would have come if the weather forecast was not calling for 3-5 inches of snow overnight Sunday.
"The snow is going to hurt us," he said. "If we didn't have that prediction, we probably would have filled this place up.
"I think the folks here still will have a good time and Lord knows we will have enough soup."
Jamie Spencer, of Marietta, came out to St. Ambrose on Sunday for "the fun, the people and the game."
"I think it is a great way to get the community together, to spend time together and get to know your fellow parishioners," she said.
Peggy Byers, of Washington County, came to St. Ambrose for "good food, good fun and a great time."
"They are making a tradition of it here," she said. "We do look forward to it.
"We know there are going to be people here. It is a nice place to have some fellowship."
Across the Blennerhassett Island Bridge in West Virginia, people gathered at Fairlawn Baptist Church for the annual Super Bowl gathering.
"We are celebrating what we are calling 'Soup or Bowl,'" said Denis Higgins, member and director of the Puppet Ministry at the church. "We are having soup, sandwiches and all kinds of comfort foods.
"We invite churchmembers and their friends to come, have a night of enjoyment and Christian fellowship and just to have a great time."
The annual gathering is one of many outreach events for people throughout the area.
"We do this and many other programs to reach out to the community," Higgins said. "Our church's mission is to do whatever it takes to reach one more for Christ."
Over 125 people attended the gathering Sunday at Fairlawn. At half-time, everyone joined in for a short devotional.
"We have done this a number of years," Higgins said. "Many churches are doing something.
"It is nice because you can do it with friends."
Tom Breen, of Washington, W.Va., said a church is the perfect place to come to watch the game.
"We couldn't think of a better place to come and spend the Super Bowl," he said. "We are here with the people we love.
"It is a great time and a great opportunity to get together and share a meal. It is a great time to fellowship with everyone."
Many people view Christians as being uptight and rigid, Breen said.
"We are just like everyone else, we get together and watch sports," he said. "It is an environment that we are able to bring our kids, let them play and not worry about them."
Higgins himself was wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey while others at both churches had shirts highlighting the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns and some college teams.
"Many of us have teams other than the Seahawks or the Broncos," Higgins said. "That is OK. We are here just to have a good time."