A DECISION of the Council of Synod will see the annual Lent Appeal fundraising venture expanded to provide a range of resources including educational and community building resources for children, youth and adults.
In the Uniting Church, Lent has traditionally been marked by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
While some churches still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent the Uniting Church tradition has focused more on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing.
The new Lent Event program will build around the appeal focus with worship resources, educational programs, comprehensive promotional materials including a DVD presentation for use in worship, and a detailed project fact sheet for each supported project.
Lent Event coordinator Sarah White said Lent Event invites individuals and communities to forgo something of their choice during the 40 day Lenten period as a way to deepen personal discipleship.
“Lent Event participants think about the various ‘things’ that make up their lives, and stop to consider what is really needed for a meaningful life and what they could give up,” Ms White said.
“Throughout Lent, they are reminded of the difference between the comfort of our lives and the poverty of the lives of others.”
Synod Justice and International Mission Advocate Andrew Johnson said funds raised by the Lent Event appeal will still go to providing sustainable support for the poorest of the poor, and will be directed through the Uniting Church’s overseas aid and development arm, UCOA.
“All projects are with our partner churches in Asia, the Pacific and Africa,” he said.
“They include support of water supply for the Sudan and Papua New Guinea, education and food for children in South India and Zambia, and micro-enterprise in Timor.
“Each project can make a real and life changing impact in the lives of people and is part of the Uniting Church’s commitment to international mission.”
From 2008 onwards gifts to the Lent Event appeal will be fully tax deductible and can be made either through the local congregations or by cheque or credit card through the mail, or online.
Ms White also believes that the Lent Event can serve as an evangelistic tool as it can involve the wider community.
“One participant said ‘it provided an opportunity to share my faith in a surprising way. I didn’t expect that at all’.
“This was a common experience and is a real bonus to the Lent Event experience.”
Photo : Lent Event Coordinator Sarah White will be on the phone to Queensland congregations between now and Lent 2008. Photo by Erica Harrison