Each year students from Lenoir-Rhyne University's Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary join seminarians from as far as Chicago to participate in the Luther Bowl, an annual flag-football tournament hosted by United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
During last year's event, students from LR's Occupational Therapy (OT) program joined the team for the first time, providing a unique opportunity for students at LTSS to collaborate with peers on the Columbia campus. The OT program welcomed its first cohort of students to the Columbia Center in fall of 2017, and is one of four graduate programs offered through the Center.
"I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I signed up but felt the entire trip was so fun and a really valuable experience," said OT student Jennifer Wiles. "All students on the Columbia campus have the same type of drive and goals regardless of the program their pursuing. We all learn a lot from each other on how to better ourselves."
Vern Kinard is a senior in the Master of Divinity program who has been participating in the Luther Bowl since he began at LTSS in 2014.
"Part of life on campus in Columbia is being surrounded by students from various programs which creates a diverse and inclusive environment," he said.
According to Kinard, any non-seminarian can participate in the event and new members and community support is strongly encouraged. "It would be great to have alumni and other graduate students travel with us to the event and participate as players or spectators," he said. "Fans tailgate and set up cheering sections which really helps to enhance the atmosphere."
Prior to the team's departure, students work to raise funds for their trip which requires a charter bus, over-night lodging, food, and other travel related expenses. The Reverend Ginger Barfield, Ph.D., executive director of the academy of faith and leadership, is among many of the LTSS faculty members who help support the students and make their trip possible.
"The Luther Bowl has become a strong tradition across the years for the seminarians," Barfield said. "I think it's a really good way for students to get to know each other and it gives them a feel for the campus community outside their academic program."
The Luther Bowl started in 1965 as a fall football contest between classes at United Lutheran Seminary, which was formerly named the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. About 20 years ago the school began inviting other seminaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to participate. The event has now grown to include hired referees, a post-game Eucharist, and a celebratory dinner.
Those interested in participating in the Luther Bowl, or providing support for team members can contact 803.786.5150.