I'm about to do something I don't do fairly often. I'm going to take the next few minutes and get up on my little soapbox.
I think I got up on my soapbox the other week when I went off about the marketing strategy behind frozen yogurt. I assure you that this soapbox issue is a bit more serious and dear to my heart.
As far as religion is concerned, I am first and foremost a Christian. However, within Christianity, I belong to a denomination known as the Church of the Brethren. We're small and not very well-known, especially in the south with the dominating presence of Baptist churches, but we're there. We exist. In fact, if you look up "baptists" on Wikipedia, you'll find us mentioned:
"The term Baptist as applied to Baptist churches is a modification of the term Anabaptist... and was used into the 19th century... for churches which denied the validity of infant baptism, including the... Schwarzenau Brethren or German Baptists." [source]
Oh, heyy. Yeah. That's us. The Church of the Brethren descended from the Schwarzenau Brethren, which were also known as German Baptists back in the day. I'm sure that's more than you ever wanted to know about the Brethren (although we take great pride in our heritage and I could tell you SO much more), but I just wanted everyone to be aware that we're not some extremist cult. We're Jesus-lovin' Christians, and we actually have a lot more in common with the Baptists than one may think.
One thing that does separate our denomination is a service called Lovefeast.
Lovefeast is observed by the Church of the Brethren and the Moravians. My hometown of Winston-Salem was founded by the Moravians. Ever heard of Old Salem? Yep, all Lovefeasting folks, even to this day.
I attended a Christian school for fourteen years of my life, and my youngest sister still goes there. Obviously, it's not a Brethren school or a Moravian school or a Mennonite school (but how cool would that be?!). It's a Baptist school. Above all, though, it is a Christian school.
With all of that being said, can somebody please explain to me why the athletic department of a Christian school scheduled a women's varsity soccer game against our biggest rivals on Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday? Really?
I get that the Baptist denomination does not observe Lovefeast and will not be having a service on Thursday evening like my church will. But it's not like we're celebrating the Chinese New Year or anything. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Christ. This Thursday evening, my church will gather, as will numerous churches throughout our district, and participate in footwashing, Lovefeast, and communion. It's a very special time for us---a sacred time for us---to come together as we approach the most important holiday of Christianity---Easter. Let's be serious... it's kind of the whole point.
When I say that my church will gather this Thursday evening for our Lovefeast service, I mean that most of my church will gather. One vital member of our congregation (and my life) will be missing---my sister. My sister will be representing her school in a soccer game because the Christian athletic department doesn't see anything wrong with having the biggest game of the year on Maundy Thursday.
Sure, she could choose to miss the game and attend the service instead. And we could all pretend that she wouldn't be penalized with less playing time in the remainder of the games this season. But you know what? She shouldn't have to make that choice. It's something I would undoubtedly expect if attending a public high school. I would be proud of my sister for standing up for her faith in a situation like that. But having to stand up for her faith at a Christian high school? What's the point of attending a Christian school in the first place if it has become no different than a public school athletic setting?
My parents contacted the athletic department at the school---not to stir up anything or even protest to get the game changed---but simply to let them know that while the specific church associated with the school may not have any special services on Maundy Thursday, there are still other churches in the area that do. The athletic department neglected to respond.
Update: the day after I posted this, the school responded to my parents' email and thanked them for highlighting Maundy Thursday. They also stated that they will do their best to avoid scheduling evening games on this date in the future.
Maybe I'm being overly-sensitive to everything. But honestly, as an alumnus, I'm really disappointed. I currently attend a university that does not observe Easter whatsoever. I'm aware that some colleges get Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and/or Easter Monday off. We don't get anything at Duke---we have a normal class schedule all week. If I have classes on Friday and want to return home Thursday night for our Lovefeast, then I either miss Friday classes or drive back to Duke after Lovefeast.
But I don't go to a school that has "God" and "Christ" and "Lord" all over its philosophy webpage.