Church league offers fun, fouls and fellowship

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2000

Sweating in church doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guilty of a grave sin. The men sweating in First Baptist Church of Natchez Thursday night, for example, were guilty of no sin greater than a hack, a travel and an occasional technical.

The Church Basketball League is made up of six teams from area churches who meet at First Baptist every Monday and Thursday night play a friendly – but competitive – game of hoops.

&uot;I just play to try hurt my joints more,&uot; said Scott Johnson as the 27-year-old laced up an ankle support and adjusted a knee brace. &uot;It’s pretty competitive … as far as church leagues go.&uot;

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Johnson, who plays for the St. Mary Basilica team, has participated in the league for a year.

&uot;But seriously, I do it for exercise. And this is a great group of guys out here,&uot; he said.

Gary Nunn, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Vidalia and one of Johnson’s opponents Thursday, agreed with his foe.

&uot;It’s just for the fun and the fellowship – and the exercise,&uot; he said.

The league also provides churches and their congregations with a much more valuable opportunity than to exercise, said league coordinator Raymond Gill, a member of First Baptist of Natchez.

&uot;This was started as an outreach program,&uot; he said. &uot;It was to get people who don’t go to church to get involved with Christian activities, and ultimately into a home church.&uot;

Gill’s church continues to host league play, even though it isn’t sporting a team this season.

&uot;We try to limit the number of teams to about eight,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s about all we can comfortably fit into the schedule.&uot;

The church also organizes a softball season, Gill said, and many of the same churches participate in both.

The current basketball league consists of teams from St. Mary, First Baptist of Vidalia, First Baptist of Ferriday, Parkway Baptist Church, Jefferson Street United Methodist and First United Pentecostal of Natchez.

With so many men of different denominations meeting on the court, one might expect a few theological discussions.

&uot;Naw,&uot; Nunn said. &uot;Just basketball.&uot;

And it is real basketball, complete with referees, fouls, a possession arrow and a small – but enthusiastic – audience.

The sport undoubtedly feels real to a few of the older participants, as several players saw their 40th birthday years ago.

&uot;It’s not so bad,&uot; said Nunn, a relative young buck 33. &uot;I need to be in a lot better shape, but this sure doesn’t hurt anything.&uot;