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Bowling Pastor Draws Lessons from the Lane

 In All Church of God, Central, CHOG

By Julie Campbell

If you’re looking for Pastor William Wimmer, you might be able to track him down at a local bowling alley in Sapulpa or Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wimmer, pastor of Sapulpa First Church of God, grew up in a bowling family and has been bowling since the young age of 4. But he’s not just your average bowler. In the last 18 years, this bowling pastor has scored nine 300 games. For those not familiar with the sport, 300 is a perfect score—a strike in every frame plus two additional strikes in the tenth frame.

“When I bowled my ninth 300 game in January, I began the night with 18 consecutive strikes before I left a 10 pin in the seventh frame of the second game. So, I had 12 strikes in game one and 6 strikes to begin game two,” he explained. “That’s the most strikes I’ve ever had in a row.”

Besides loving the challenge of the game and the sense of accomplishment a great shot brings, bowling has provided Wimmer with some surprising opportunities to minister outside of the church.

“I have conducted several funerals for the families of some of my bowling friends,” he explained. “In 2010, a young man bowled in a league with me in Kent, Ohio—someone I had spoken with on occasion, but didn’t know especially well. His wife passed away unexpectedly at the age of 32, leaving behind her husband and three children. The husband asked me to officiate at her funeral. Dozens of friends from that bowling league were present for the funeral.”

He has also officiated a wedding for one of his teammates inside a bowling alley.

“Beyond weddings and funerals, though, nearly everyone in the leagues I bowl in knows that I am a pastor, and occasionally, they will share personal things about their lives and ask me to pray for them,” he said. “A few times, I’ve been able to pray with someone there in the bowling alley.”

Wimmer says he gets a lot of support from his congregation, especially those who have an interest in bowling. “One man in my current church wants me to text him the score of each game I bowl every time I bowl. And, if I don’t, he will text me and ask, ‘Scores?’”

As for support from his family, this story says it all:

“After bowling a 300 game in April of last year, I texted my wife, Cindy, to tell her. Three frames into the second game, I look up and see Cindy standing there. She had driven over to the bowling alley to celebrate with me. I have seen many people bowl perfect games in my lifetime, but I have never known a spouse to come to the bowling alley to congratulate them. That was something that I will always remember.”

The Wimmers’ three adult sons, Micah, Luke, and Jordan, are also supportive of their dad. After one 300 game, they all wrote a note on a bowling pin that he had at his house.

One of Wimmer’s favorite parts of the sport, though, are the relationships he has made over the years.

“While we all value our relationships inside the church, it is also a tremendous blessing to have so many friends outside the church. I have been blessed with countless friends through bowling—many who are brothers and sisters in the Lord and many who are not. The camaraderie that we share and the genuine concern we have for one another have been a great blessing.”

Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and a freelance journalist. A former city girl from Chicago, she enjoys country life with her husband, Russ, on a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and one very spoiled white boxer.

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

Feature (top) photo: William Wimmer bowling as a child (left) and as an adult (right).

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