The clue is - three pastors vying to be the champion, a room full of cheering kids, an electronic buzzer system and a great deal of fun. Give up? What is Pastor Jeopardy.
For the past several years during Lutheran Schools Week, Concordia has put local and area pastors to the test in a game that is filled with clues and answers written by the students taken from their own curriculum. It is the intent of the students to stump the pastors - and it never fails - they do just that.
This year's competitors were Pastors Bruce Lesemann of St. John, Storm Lake; Dave Lyons of St. Paul Lutheran, Schaller; and Andrew Ratcliffe of St. Paul, Sac City.
Pastor Lyons, who has been in the Jeopardy tournament for the past five years, was being cheered on by the yellow team, made up of the kindergarten and first grade students. Most of them dressed in yellow, proudly raising bananas high in the air wen their pastor answered correctly.
Pastor Bruce, with a "home" advantage, has been a competitor in the game twice. He was cheered on by the purple team, or grapes, made up of the second and third grade students.
Pastor Ratcliffe got his first chance at being a part of the game. His team members, the apples, were dressed in red. The fourth-sixth grade students had "Go Big Red" and "Go Big Rat" sprawled on their faces.
Pastor Lyons was this year's champion in an amazing finish.
Science, math, religion, language and history questions, ranging from 100 points in Jeopardy to 1,000 points in Double Jeopardy, were answered (or at least attempted to be answered) by the pastors.
They rushed through the science questions as quickly as possible, because, as Pastor Lesemann said, "they get us in trouble" and whizzed through the religious categories. While no conversation is allowed on the television-version of Jeopardy, Pastor Jeopardy involved joking and laughter and even an offer by Pastor Lesemann to split points if they could put their heads together and come up with an answer to one of the tricky questions.
The $600 language clue asked pastors to find the adjective in the sentence, "Some of the seeds fell on the rocky soil." Rocky - just like his performance in the game, lamented Rev. Ratcliffe.
At the end of the Double Jeopardy round, Pastor Lyons with 5,900 points, was out in the lead, followed by Pastor Ratcliffe with 4,100 points and Pastor Lyons with 3,000.
The Final Jeopardy clue, from the category The Bible, didn't fool any the pastors. The clue - This woman never had a mother. (Who was Eve?)
Lyons wagered 100 points, Ratcliffe 1,900 points and Lesemann all 3,000 of his points. The score was tied up at 6,000. Just like an overtime of a basketball game, the pastors were given another chance to break the tie.
Jason Hinkeldey read the tie breaker clue from the history category which the pastors didn't seem too excited about. The clue - the only African American killed at the Boston massacre. Stumped the pastors, no one came up with the correct answer - Who was Crispus Attucks? Pastor Lesemann concluded the game with 0 points, Pastor Ratcliffe with 3,000 and the thrifty Pastor Lyons saved most of his points with a small wager.
"It feels wonderful to finally win," said Pastor Lyons at the conclusion of the game. "We're all going 'bananas!'"
Pastor Ratcliffe enjoyed the experience but admitted he was "sweating bullets" when he began. "I prayed for the spirit of wisdom and power; I got close, I guess."
Pastor Lesemann happily joked that at least he had fun!
"This is evidence that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ," said Pastor Ratcliffe. As the children departed back to their classrooms following the game, he looked at the other two pastors and asked, "What are you doing the rest of the morning? Let's go study."
Hmmm. Preparation for next year.