Pray Hard and Play Hard: Coming Together for Some Friendly Competition
Story and photos by Jacquelyn VanWeelden
Director of Communications at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Ladue
Look out Cardinals, St. Louis has a new crew of champions ready to come to the plate! On Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11, parishes in the Emery Washington Convocation headed to Tower Grove Park in St. Louis to battle it out at the third annual Emery Washington Convocation League Softball Tournament.
The Very Rev. Jon Stratton of Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis and Dean of the EW Convocation, created this tournament as an opportunity to build relationships between parishioners from different parishes, and maybe indulge in a little friendly competition at the same time. Speaking to this mission, Rev. Stratton said, “It’s important for congregations to come together and build relationships, to see more Episcopalians in the world. Since we are a network of Christians, why don’t we play together?”
Parishes who didn’t have enough players to field a full team were paired together, making it possible for parishioners from three or four churches to meet each other (not to mention work together to get the opposing team out at third base).
Trinity (CWE) brought on Deaconess Anne House members to help create a foreboding team full of young adults. The Church of the Advent (Crestwood), Emmanuel (Webster Groves), and St. Peter’s (Ladue) banded together to make a team, considering it their secret to success for their two wins. Alexander from Advent commented, “This is my first time playing. It’s a lot of fun. Not often you see multiple congregations together.”
Besides players, there were plenty of cheerleaders on the sidelines, rooting for their respective teams and commending all good plays throughout the games. While Bishop Johnson was checking in on Christ Church Cathedral’s players, he said, “It’s a good day for church cooperation and friendly fun! We pray hard and we play hard.” And all teams did just that, running the bases and hitting home runs like the pros.
While there were smiles and cheering for all sides, at the end of the second day, one had to be declared the winner. But it wasn’t going to be so easy. At the end of tournament play, four teams were tied for first place. The winning team was to be determined by a foot race. It was a close call, but the St. John’s runner was able to squeak by, claiming victory for his parish. As everyone said their goodbyes and congratulations, the enthusiasm continued, with talk of next year’s tournament and the new friendly rivalries that will play out in Summer of ‘23.