B1 program inspires youth to act on poverty

NEW YORK - 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. Their 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.

For more information, go to: www.fasttodaychangetomorrow.org.