Several years ago, on a Sunday morning of a Super Bowl game, a simple pastoral prayer inspired a ministry to help hungry and hurting people.
The prayer was, "Lord, even as we enjoy this Super Bowl football game, help us to be mindful of those without a bowl of soup to eat."
This simple prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., gave birth to an idea. Why not give each parishioner the opportunity to give $1 for the needy as he or she leaves church on Super Bowl Sunday?
The local church youth group would collect the money in large bowls, and choose the charity of its choice to receive all the money. All the collected money goes to a local charity, for there is no overhead. The youth group reported the amount to www.souperbowl.org.
The first year, 22 Columbia church groups collected $5,700 for local ministries; $3,540,770 was reported in 2003 by 11,130 youth groups.
Since the Souper Bowl's inception, youth participation has generated an aggregate of more than $20,000 for food banks and other local charities. In addition, more and more youth are volunteering at the charity their youth group supports. The Souper Bowl of Caring touches more and more lives each year.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church and four other churches in Baxter and Brainerd are listed on the Web site as local reporting donor youth groups. Since 1999, St. Paul's Youth Club has dedicated the income to the local soup kitchen, and the youth group serves at the kitchen four times each year.
It's so easy to become active in the Souper Bowl for Caring. This Sunday, announce the collection, pray for generosity and have a "soup" bowl at each door sponsored by members of the youth group. After counting the gift money, go on the Web site www.souperbowl.org and report your total. Then, on Monday, take the money to the charity of your choice.
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