Several Oklahoma UM churches, small groups, and individuals are participating in the "Alcohol-Free for Lent" campaign, in which people pledge to abstain from drinking alcohol during Feb. 22-April 8.
The campaign is promoted here by the Conference’s Addiction Ministries. This global effort also has educational and fundraising goals.
Last year, 50 UM churches in 22 states, as well as other nations, accepted the first "Alcohol-Free for Lent" challenge. The campaign is sponsored by Special Programs on Substance Abuse and Related Violence, a component of the UM General Board of Global Ministries.
Oklahoma’s churches that participated last year reported positive avenues for discussion, said Annette Harper, who directs Addiction Ministries.
"Everyone must grapple daily with the influence of alcohol on our lives, whether we drink or not," she said. "Frank conversation is unlikely to happen, however, without bold action such as this initiative that calls us to take a dramatic step, to make a personal or corporate statement about alcohol and its impact."
The abstinence choice last year also gave some Oklahomans an opportunity to explore a spiritual focus instead of substance escape, she said.
In addition, some set up "Spirit Funds" to raise money equivalent to the cost of "spirits" not consumed during Lent. The funds are donated to community prevention and recovery programs.
Among those reporting to Harper their participation this Lent are OKC-First, OKC-Epworth, Tulsa-St. Paul’s, and the New Beginning Ministry of Prague UMC.