by Julia Schmidtke
The phrase “clowning around” tends to carry a negative connotation; clowns, in our cultural context, are often surrounded by a cloud of creepiness and a warped instilling of fear. My first thought when I heard about the use of clowns in a worship setting was “what sick person thought that would be a good idea.” I never would have imagined that clowns could play any meaningful role in a worship setting and felt strongly that church is certainly a place where clowns do not belong. It seems that I stand corrected, as clowns were effectively used in ministry, especially in the 1980s. In 1987 and 1988, Concordia’s Worship Committee creatively featured “clown services” during their Spiritual Emphasis Weeks. In 1987, the spiritual emphasis theme was “Friends” where the clowns were featured in a service, acting out a friendship message. This was clearly a hit as they were back again in the winter semester Spiritual Emphasis Week and the following year.
While I’m unsure what a “clown service” fully entails, it is clear that there is room for joking in fellowship, even so far as to be a feature service. I think many would agree that Church can become a bit too serious, bu
t for many Christians in the 1980s, the integration of humour certainly relieved some pressure and enabled worship to be what it should be: refreshing.
This may be a piece of history that could stand to be repeated. Although CUE looks considerably different today, I think I speak for most students in saying that the stress and seriousness of university life can be overwhelming. The sheer ridiculousness of clowns serves as a reminder that incorporating laughter, and creating room for absurdity or foolishness, may be necessary to feed the soul.
Julia Schmidtke is a second year Religion student with a minor in Classical Languages and Civilizations. She is involved in the peer coaching program at CUE and in her spare time enjoys going for runs in the river valley, reading, and drinking too much coffee to be considered healthy.
Concordia’s CUE 100 committee is very excited to feature the written work of several students and alumni as part of its centenary celebrations. As these celebrations continue, you can look forward to reading short articles by these writers on interesting aspects of Concordia’s history over the past century. Writers were given access to archival documents on particular topics which they were asked to summarize and personally respond to. You’ll be able to discover much about Concordia’s history and how it still resonates among us today. We hope you find these articles both informative and entertaining. Happy 100, Concordians!