Sunday Bowling: Just Like Calvin

As campus chaplains at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George, B.C., Neil and Virginia Lettinga host a regular “Second Sunday Lunch” for students.

Lunch begins with cheese-smothered soup and stuffed foccacio sandwiches served at the chaplains’ home table.

Then, if you’re lucky, everyone heads down to the basement to participate in John Calvin’s favorite Sunday afternoon pastime: bowling.

The Lettingas say bowling is a good way to begin a conversation about Sunday traditions with students who grew up in the Christian Reformed Church, many of whom tell stories about friends who weren’t allowed to ride bikes on Sunday or grandparents who insisted that they stay in their dress clothes all day. It is a way to help students distinguish between traditions and broader Reformed principles.

“John Calvin bowled on Sunday? Wait till I tell my opa (grandfather) that!” said one incredulous but delighted young man.

Calvin used small, heavy lawn bowls. The Lettingas use weighted British carpet bowls that curve as they roll. Students howl with laughter as the balls go in opposite directions than intended.

The Christian Reformed campus ministry at UNBC is funded jointly by Christian Reformed Home Missions and CRC churches in the region.

About the Author

Peter Schuurman, who is laboring toward a Ph.D. in religious studies, passed his comprehensive exam. He’s on the preaching team of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ontario. His youngest child, Grace, was born last Reformation Day.
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