High school schedules encroach on ‘church night’
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Ministers in the St. Cloud area want to keep Wednesday nights reserved for church activities.
For years, Wednesdays have been off-limits for most school athletic competitions. School practices were limited and no games were scheduled.
But ministers and youth leaders in the St. Cloud area say they’re seeing some sports, homework and other activities infringing on Wednesday nights, which are traditionally reserved for confirmation, youth groups and other religious activities.
Nearly 50 faith leaders, including St. Cloud Bishop John Kinney, have signed a letter to coaches and activity directors reminding them that Wednesday is a special night.
"It puts our children in a bad spot," said Ginny Duschner, faith formation director at the Church of the Holy Spirit in St. Cloud. "They have to choose between two things that are important."
Duschner said she has met with many church leaders who say they are increasingly running into more competition for Wednesday programs.
"It’s a significant thing in that it speaks to a thing that has always been a high priority around here," she said.
Bill Dornbush, pastor at Hope Covenant Church, said he signed the letter.
"To me, what we are noticing, there is a lot more competition today than there has been before regarding competing entities," Dornbush said. He said his 200-member church is running into conflicts with hockey schedules.
Sauk Rapids-Rice activities director Tom Conzemius said his school does not schedule games on Wednesdays. Practices cannot go past 6 p.m. and students who need to leave earlier to attend church-related programs can.
He said this year section football and volleyball games have fallen on Wednesdays. Conzemius said he had not seen the letter and was not aware of the recent concern of local churches.
Andrea Swanberg, activities director at Technical High School, said more games are probably ending up on Wednesdays. Playoffs have been scheduled on Wednesdays, and last spring Wednesday scheduling was caused by bad weather that postponed games, she said.
"We still try to keep Wednesday open. We don’t want the students and parents to feel this conflict," Swanberg said.