|Youth Fast Today to Change Tomorrow|
New York, NY, February 6--A campaign to link United Methodist youth to the realities of local and global poverty is being expanded into pilot areas across the United States after a successful launch in New Jersey.
"B1" incorporates voluntary food fasts, education, and fundraising for anti-poverty projects. The name stands for "one being, being one" and suggests the responsibility each person has to live with a sense of connection to others and also to be the best person possible.
The program began through a challenge that Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar of Greater New Jersey issued to the conference youth organization and The Advance, the United Methodist-designated mission giving channel. He asked them to devise a means of introducing church youth to the ravages of poverty and then inspiring them to do something about it.
B1 was honed through the experiences of 15 New Jersey United Methodist Youth Fellowships, which also raised $11,000 for hunger-related projects in 2008. The goal is $250,000 during the next four years.
The overall purpose of B1 is to educate young United Methodists to work for the empowerment of the poor and to change the systems that keep people around the world impoverished. A basic question for the young B1 participants is how they, as Christians, should relate to brothers and sisters who are poor.
"B1 takes place during Lent, a time when we think of self-denial as a spiritual act in preparation for Easter," said Rachel Harvey, the Advance staff member who worked with the youth staff and the originating congregations in developing B1.
Resources that emerged from the New Jersey start are being used in six pilots starting in March, one in each of four of the five United Methodist jurisdictions in the US and two in another jurisdiction. Greater New Jersey is the site in the northeastern jurisdiction with the intention of spreading B1 across the conference. The other five conferences are:
"We hope and expect that B1 will build on the experiences of these conferences and become a part of the youth ministries of the entire United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Shawn Bakker, director of The Advance. "Planning for B1 has included consultation with the Division on Ministry with Young People at the General Board of Discipleship, which is on board with the campaign."
Erica Manoz, coordinator for children, youth, and young adult ministry in the Greater New Jersey Conference, reports very positive evaluations from the congregations where B1 started and enthusiasm within the conference for the program's extension. "Lots of churches want to be part of B1," she said.
The education component of the campaign is Bible- and social-justice centered. The food fast is rooted in Isaiah 58:6-8, which begins: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke….? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…?" (Today's New International Version).
Each B1 group will select an anti-poverty ministry to support through The Advance. The emphasis in the jurisdictional pilot stage is on hunger projects.
For more information, go to: www.fasttodaychangetomorrow.org.
Date posted: Feb 06, 2009