SV Fehmarn Handball Team Displays the Jesus Fish on its Shirts
F e h m a r n – The secular SV Fehmarn handball team is advertising the Christian faith on its shirts. Since the end of October its players’ chests sport the stylized drawing of a fish, a symbol of the Christian faith since antiquity. The letters of the Greek word for fish (ichtys) are also the initial letters of a confession of faith: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Redeemer”. Accompanying the fish symbol, slightly amended with a smile, are the words „Christusgemeinde (Christ Church) Fehmarn“. Christ Church, located on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, is a small Baptist congregation with only 28 members. The idea stems from handball athlete and church member Marcus Engelmann. He asks simply: “Why should we not advertise our faith?”
The team, which has recently been vaulting from victory to victory in the regional league, was unsuccessful in its bid to find a sponsor for its new uniform shirts. Lay church leader Gerhard Schellburg and Pastor Benno Braatz, who also pastors congregations in Oldenburg/Holstein und Lütjenburg, were fascinated by the proposal. The church members also supported the idea strongly and gave a green light to spending 500 Euro on the endeavour. Only the executive of SV Fehmarn had second thoughts. The newspaper “Lübecker Nachrichten” reported that according to its bylaws the club “is neutral in politics and confession”. The German Handball Federation’s advertising guidelines also rule out political parties and religious groups. Yet Fehmarn’s handball players spotted a loophole: A church cannot be labelled a „religious group“. This, according to the “Lübecker Nachrichten”, got Christ Church back on board. One of the paper’s editors found the appropriate headline: “Fehmarn’s Handball Players Vie for Victory with God’s Blessing”.