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Baptist volunteers’ Super Bowl help to include fan hospitality roles

ATLANTA (BP)–When thousands of sports fans descend on Atlanta for Super Bowl XXXIV, metro Atlanta Baptists plan to be part of the enthusiastic crowd.

Volunteers from nine metro Atlanta associations will be sharing the gospel in a variety of ways, from staffing hotel information booths to helping fans play interactive games at the “NFL Experience” in the Georgia World Congress Center to distributing evangelistic sports magazines.

The ministry will spread across eight days beginning on Jan. 22 as fans from around the nation plan their week around the mega-event.

To kick off the outreach, the parking lot at Turner Field will be turned into a block party with volunteers distributing 15,000 bags of groceries to the needy. About 700 volunteers are staffing the event, “Operation Blessing-Supper Bowl,” which is being sponsored by Christian Broadcasting Network. The NFL-sanctioned street festival is held annually in the host city to benefit economically challenged families.

But that’s not all. Joel Harrison, director of missions for the Atlanta Baptist Association, said Metro Atlanta Baptists will be hosting 183 viewing sites in area churches and homes.

The sites are where Christians can invite unchurched friends and neighbors to enjoy the game in a relaxed atmosphere. The gatherings will include the showing of a halftime video in which Christian athletes share their faith.

Harrison said 168,000 copies of Sports Spectrum, an evangelistic sports magazine, have been distributed to churches for use during the weeklong emphasis, as part of a partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. Many of the magazines are being distributed in door-to-door campaigns and as part of a church’s visitation program.

Mike Murphy, pastor at Clairmont Baptist Church, said members of his church have also distributed the magazine in doctors’ offices and in the office of an Atlanta corporation.

Mike Sigmon, bivocational pastor of Northwest Baptist Church and a sports referee, said the publication has been well received. He has distributed them to coaches, players and other referees; some coaches have asked for additional copies to distribute to their teams.

“I like the Christian testimonies that are included by well-known athletes. This gives many athletes a chance to say that regardless of how important and exciting the Super Bowl is, it’s not as big of a thrill as accepting Christ as your Savior.

“It’s a great way to accomplish a witness with sports-minded individuals who may not otherwise be open to the gospel,” he added.

Liz Pearson, coordinator of the Metro Atlanta Baptist Super Bowl leadership team, is working with the Metro Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee to provide 500 of the 7,000 volunteers being requested by the city.

Some volunteers will need to receive training, so interested individuals are urged to register immediately. With some events beginning this weekend, time is of the essence, she said. For more information or to volunteer, call Pearson at the Atlanta Baptist Association at (770) 455-4870, ext. 4856.

Volunteers can register on-line at www.superbowlxxxiv.org/volunteers/volunteer.html. On-line registrants should complete the volunteer profile with code A108.

Volunteers should be at least 18 years of age and be willing to work a minimum of two six-hour shifts.

Areas where volunteers will be deployed include:

— Staff hotel information booths — the top priority.

— Help fans play interactive games at the NFL Experience at the Georgia World Congress Center.

— Distribute hospitality baskets to media.

— Assist with various Super Bowl-related events such as golf tournaments, youth clinics and hospitality functions.

— Help with party set-up and decorations.

    About the Author

  • Joe Westbury