Wednesday nights in the church have become commonly reserved for young adults to celebrate faith in a fun way. Sunday mornings are retained for traditional, peaceful worship and neighborly greetings. And every so often, Saturday afternoons entertain with family-friendly events sponsored by religious organizations. But in Altoona, Tuesday nights bring in a whole new ball game — literally.
Altoona United Methodist Church, High Pointe Church and Lutheran Church of the Cross have formed men’s slow-pitch softball teams. Tuesday evenings they bring their gloves, bats and hearts to the two diamond fields at Lions Park and engage in doubleheaders. Under the stadium lights they often compete with each other as well as a few Des Moines church teams.
Pastor Greg Pollack of High Pointe is proud to be on one of the two teams his church has formed, win or lose.
“Every time I hit the ball, my kids think it’s a homerun,” he says.
Not only are sports a great way to get involved with the community, Pollack says, but they can also teach a person some valuable lessons.
“We’re spiritual but very competitive,” he admits. “Pride will get you in trouble.”
But through fellowship, comradeship and encouragement, everyone is able to celebrate their wins and overcome losses.
Lutheran Church of the Cross congregation member Matt Suhr has been on men’s slow pitch leagues for about five years, but this is his first year with a church team. Like Pollack, he says what really sets it apart from other non-denominational leagues is the strong sense of fellowship. Before they get into position and “play ball” the two opposing teams join each other in prayer on the field.
“It really sets the mood,” Suhr says. “Obviously we try to win, but mostly we try to have fun.”
The teams began playing in May and hope to continue into August, weather permitting. While it lasts, the teams will be graced under the summer night skies.
Is this Heaven? No. But maybe close.
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