WASHINGTON, D.C. – The General Board of Church and Society has issued a call for United Methodists to have an “Alcohol Free Lent.” The call is inspired by Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, N.C., whose members responded to their own “Alcohol Free Lent” challenge several years ago. The congregation created a “Spirit Fund” to which members could contribute the equivalent cost of “spirits” that they did not drink during Lent.

The Rev. Dr. James Howell, senior pastor, issued the challenge to the Myers Park congregation. “How do we unwittingly harm our children?” he asked. “It could just be by the way we consume alcohol and not just that we drink or how much we drink, but all the fond meanings we attach to drinking.”

Howell said he issued the challenge in a sermon on Leviticus 6: Instead of a cocktail before dinner, drink water and put $6 into a Spirit Fund jar; instead of a glass or two of wine at night, put $7 in the fund; instead of a cooler of beer while watching basketball, have soft drinks and invest the $24 in the jar.

The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, director of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society’s work area on Alcohol, Other Addictions and Health Care, encourages congregations and individuals to establish a Spirit Fund in conjunction with the Lenten challenge.

To become involved, register your church’s participation at www.umc-gbcs.org/alcoholfreelent.