Hockey rivalry brings cathedral deans together in friendly wager

June 8, 2011

Will it be the Very Rev. Peter Elliott in Bruins black and gold at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral on a Sunday soon? Or the Very Rev. John P. Streit Jr. of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston wearing Canucks blue and green?

With the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks competing for this year's Stanley Cup, the deans of the Episcopal and Anglican cathedral churches in both cities have joined the fray with a friendly wager: The loser will contribute $250 to a good cause of the winner's choosing and will wear the winning team's jersey in church on the first Sunday after the finals' end.

It turns out that hockey rivalry isn't these deans' only bond -- the two attended seminary together at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the late 1970s and then renewed their acquaintance more recently at conferences for cathedral deans.

"We're friends, and so when the finals came up, we proposed this as a way to make it more interesting and to involve our cathedrals in something fun," Streit said.

When it comes to mixing Pentecost vestments with hockey jerseys, neither is certain if special dispensation will be necessary to avoid a liturgical season color clash -- apparently they don't teach that sort of thing in seminary -- but each is pretty sure it will be the other's worry.

Anyway, it's not as if Anglican relations in North America are hanging in the balance over this, Streit averred. Or are they? "I will note that a Canucks player did bite a Bruin in game one -- unseemly behavior that my friend and colleague Peter Elliott ought to address," Streit said.

"Great to see that civilization has come to this," Elliott responded by e-mail. (Check out his sermon, "This is what we live for?" here.)

Then a hit in game three by the Canucks' Aaron Rome put the Bruins' Nathan Horton out for the series. "Maybe Vancouver needs to switch to decaf," Streit said.

Game on.