From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodists miss winning touchdown on Souper Bowl Sunday

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 10 Apr 2000 15:04:20

April 10, 2000 News media contact: Linda Green·(615)742-5470·Nashville,
Tenn.     10-71B{193}

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Just as the Tennessee Titans fell short of winning
the national football championship, United Methodist churches were hampered
in making the winning touchdown in efforts to collect money and canned goods
on Super Bowl Sunday.

A total of 2,454 United Methodist churches generated just under $500,000 of
the national total of $3.1 million to help the needy through the annual
"Souper Bowl of Caring" campaign, held Jan. 30. That was less than the
previous year's figure, and organizers said ice and snow throughout the
South were partly to blame.

"While the Methodist totals are down slightly from last year, I was
impressed that that total was as large as it was recognizing the weather
challenges in the Methodist heavy Southern states," said the Rev. Brad
Smith. A total of 2,632 United Methodist churches generated $444,758 of the
national total of $2.4 million in 1999. Smith is Souper Bowl founder and
pastor at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., the Souper
Bowl headquarters.  

Nationally, 12,500 churches from all 50 states and from nearly that many
denominations and faith traditions contributed money to local charities
around the country this year. Participation in the 2000 effort represented
an increase of $600,000 or 20 percent, over last year's total.

"This year's increase in dollars raised is particularly impressive when one
recalls that much of the South was bearing the brunt of its worst snowstorm
in 10 years," Smith said. The combined participation of South Carolina,
North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia was down nearly 1,000 churches
from last year's total, he said.

The Souper Bowl, which began in Columbia in 1990, has encouraged thousands
of churches nationwide to use the Sunday of the national championship
football game to raise money for hunger projects of their choice. Roughly
$10 million has been raised for charities since the program's inception 10
years ago.

Calling Souper Bowl Sunday "God's grace in action," Smith expressed his
gratefulness "for each person, from each and every church, who reached into
their heart and wallet to share Christ's love in this simple but significant

In addition to United Methodists, other Souper Bowl team members this year
included Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, African Methodist Episcopals,
Lutherans and Presbyterians.

Although the Souper Bowl statistical profiles are large, Smith says "the
real joy is in the impact the effort has on youth and young adults in local
churches across the country." Hundreds of youth groups around the country
not only collect dollars and learn about poverty but they also learn about
the biblical call "to care for the least of these, our brothers and
sisters," Smith said.

A Kenton, Ohio, youth group illustrated that service and study did not have
to be at the expense of fun. Jason Cox, youth director at Walnut Grove
United Methodist Church, said he and the senior pastor would shave their
beards if the church collected 600 nonperishable items and $400. On Souper
Bowl Sunday, with the choir singing a specially written anthem, the youth
and children of the church used little red wagons to collect 621 cans and
$852. The beards were clipped the following week.

Next year's Souper Bowl Sunday will be Jan. 28. For more information, visit or call (800) 358-SOUP (7687).

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United Methodist News Service
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