Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Bible competition will name one church as Wichita’s ‘first’


Fr. Catherine Caimano of St. John’s Episcopal Church, left, playfully wrestles Rev. Cathy Northrup of First Presbyterian Church. The two churches claim they are the oldest in the city and on Friday will have the “First Annual First Church in Wichita Bible Showdown,” a Bible trivia competition between the two churches where the winner will get to claim the first church title for a year. In the background are Katie Pott, a historian with St. John’s, and Gary Huffman, a historian with First Presbyterian.

Bible competition will name one church ‘first’

Let’s get ready to ruuuuumble… religion style! In this corner, from the downtown Wichita corner of Third and Topeka, the house of worship that claims it is the city’s first church: St. John’s Episcopal Church.

And in the other corner, from Broadway, near Central, the one that claims it is the city’s first church: First Presbyterian Church.

Tonight, the two churches will settle their “dispute” in what they’re calling the First Annual First Church in Wichita Bible Bowl.

Each church will have a team — made up of the pastors and four church members — and will answer Bible trivia questions.

The winning team will get a trophy, and perhaps more importantly, the right to claim for the next year that they are the first church in Wichita.

“I’ve tried to select questions from a range of Bible knowledge, from the beginner to probably an advanced student of the Bible,” said Pastor Dan Hawn, of downtown Wichita’s First Baptist Church. He will moderate the contest, which will be held at St. John’s.

The background to the battle goes back to last year, when the Rev. Catherine A. Caimano, rector at St. John’s, shared in an article in The Eagle her goals for the upcoming year.

Among them: “I want us to look again at our rich history as the first church in Wichita, our reputation for outreach and community care, and to give new energy and vision to both as we start this new year.”

Her good friend, the Rev. Cathy Northrup, pastor of First Presbyterian, joked with her about that statement.

“I believe Cathie misspoke,” Northrup said.

First Presbyterian, Northrup said, is actually the first, with a charter date of March 13, 1870. St. John’s charter date is Oct. 4, 1870, according to its archivist, Katie Pott.

But although First Presbyterian had the earlier charter, Pott said St. John’s had the first church building — a sod-roof structure made of cottonwood slabs at Main and Central.

As Northrup and Caimano were having coffee one morning — as they frequently do — they thought of the idea of a Bible trivia contest.

They checked it out with their members, and settled on the format. They asked Hawn to come up with the questions.

Hawn, who used to referee hockey, said he might even wear his referee shirt.

Although there’s a title and trophy on the line, the Bible Bowl is all in fun. The two churches will start their event at 6 p.m. with a potluck meal.

The event is also part of an ongoing effort among downtown churches to come together more often — for ministry and fellowship.

For example, many of the downtown churches coordinate their efforts and resources to serve the city’s homeless.

“I think we’re really becoming more intentional about having our downtown churches seek mission together, share our resources and have fellowship,” Caimano said. “We realize that… downtown churches make a strong community in downtown Wichita.”

August 15, 2008 - Posted by | Evangelical Tricks

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