LOFT service shines light on Super Bowl trafficking issues

Campus ministries hosted Super Sunday Songfest rather than its usual LOFT service on Sunday, Feb. 2. The worship apprentices structured the night as a lament for the victims affected by the widespread sex trafficking that occurs during the Super Bowl.

The night followed the layout of typical LOFT services except that singing replaced the typical message. Students could submit their song requests on the Calvin campus ministries’ Facebook page and the worship apprentices chose from those songs.

According to worship apprentice (WA) Amanda Potthast, the WAs had been studying the concept of lament and wanted to bring that to the service. Lament breaks up into three parts: complaint, petition and turning towards God. Several of the songs were psalms that voice frustration with the injustices of this world.

“We wanted to live in [the complaint and petition portion] for a while because sex trafficking is a reality, but end with the assurance that God is still faithful,” said Potthast.

Potthast stressed the importance of directing our focus toward the oppressed and marginalized while many are watching the football game. Although the Super Bowl is not the single largest human trafficking event as it is often described, cities who host the game see an uptick in trafficking arrests and plan accordingly for the weekend. Reuters reports that ahead of the 2017 Super Bowl, law enforcement arrested about 750 people nationwide on sex trafficking charges.

“While worshiping tonight, it was really important to be mindful that this nationally-focused event also costs people their dignity,” said Chaplain Mary Hulst.

Hulst also raised the possibility of Calvin being more directly involved in helping sex trafficking victims if the Super Bowl were ever to come to Detroit.

A recent Christianity Today article reported that over a quarter of churches move their service around to accommodate the football game. LOFT, which is normally at 8 p.m., followed suit by moving the service to 5 p.m.

According to Hulst, LOFT services before the adjustment would only attract around 25 students on Super Bowl Sunday because students would want to spend time with their friends watching the game. Campus ministries then decided to schedule LOFT earlier to make both events possible. Potthast noted that watching the Super Bowl is an opportunity for fellowship, so by adapting the service, it was a way of honoring that fellowship time. Super Song Sunday was able to fill the lower half of the Covenant Fine Arts Center this year.

Reverend Peter Jonker, the minister of preaching at LaGrave Christian Reformed Church, said that although his church did not move services around for the Super Bowl, he would not be a “curmudgeon” on the issue.

Jonker stated that he would be watching the game on Sunday night after church. He went on to joke:

“Although, I am a Lions fan and the suffering associated with my fandom may prepare me for the sacrifices that we all need to make in the Kingdom. Or not.”