Blue bands are at home on both right and left wrists
A church's wristbands have nothing to do with George or John and everything to do with harvesting gifts.
By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published October 27, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - When Lutheran Church of the Cross ordered blue wristbands in June, leaders at the Shore Acres church weren't thinking politics.
That is, until a newspaper article appeared saying that a local company was selling identical bracelets for people who wanted to tout their party allegiance.
"I woke up and saw that and I almost spit my coffee out," the Rev. David Swenson said.
"I'm totally apolitical in the pulpit."
The first of the 500 blue wristbands were handed out during the offering last Sunday.
"We probably will just low-key it this week," Swenson joked.
"For the most part, the people that want it, have it. The kids just love them."
The church's foray into the wristband fad started simply enough. What better way to promote the stewardship campaign - that often-dreaded fall drive churches make for financial and other pledges? The Lance Armstrong Foundation had its yellow LiveStrong bands to raise money for cancer research. It was just up to Lutheran Church of the Cross, at 4545 Chancellor St. NE, to choose its own signature hue.
"We talked color and we didn't want to go green, because we thought it would make people think money," Swenson said.
"So we chose royal blue."
The order was finalized in July. Before the wristbands could arrive, the September article appeared.
"There was a story about two young entrepreneurs in Florida that were going to sell red for Democrats and exactly the same color blue for Republicans," Swenson said of the silicon bracelets from Momentum Sales and Marketing in Safety Harbor. That company's color scheme reversed the conventional hues for Democratic and Republican states.
Lutheran Church of the Cross had ordered its blue wristbands from PromoBrands.com in New York. By the time the article appeared, it was too late for the church to do anything about the color it had ordered.
Jeff Huvar, president of PromoBrands.com, in Manhattan's Chelsea district, said the bracelets, in the political colors of blue and red, have been popular.
"We have "W 2004' in red and "Kerry 2004' in blue," he said.
Huvar added that the bracelets, in various colors, also are being used to promote school football teams and as fundraisers.
"We are getting all kinds of diseases," he said during a telephone interview Tuesday. "If a kid is sick and needs an operation, other kids in the school will buy them and put his name on them and sell them to raise money."
And around the country, churches like Lutheran Church of the Cross are snapping up the wristbands and adding messages, some simply giving a reference to a well-known Bible verse such as John 3:16, Huvar said.
Lutheran Church of the Cross chose to have "Receiving God's Gifts" imprinted on theirs. In part, the words remind congregants to return their stewardship commitment cards, Swenson said.
"The second is the daily reminder that each day we live we receive a gift from God," he said.
It is also hoped, the pastor said, that the bracelets will prompt outsiders to ask about them and give church members an opportunity to speak about their faith.
There have been no repercussions from what could be misunderstood as a political endorsement, Swenson said.
"I haven't heard anybody really upset. A couple of people joked about it," he said.
"On the other hand, I don't really think the red and blue wristbands really caught on."