While many churches observe Lent with self-reflection and preparations for Easter, the Rev. Jason Everson challenged his congregation to live upside down for the 40 days of Lent.
In February 2014, Everson urged members of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Lake Wylie, S.C., to turn their focus outward and help people in the community who are struggling or facing challenges.
As the church studied the Beatitudes, Everson told the congregants that they could walk, run or cycle to make a difference by helping the poor and those affected by illness or mourning. For every mile that a member walked or cycled, the church donated 25 cents to the charity of his or her choice. Some members also wanted to lose weight. For every pound each lost, another 25 cents went to their charity.
The idea emerged when Everson, a marathon runner, found an app on his phone called Charity Miles, which donates to many charities. He wanted to use the same idea for Good Samaritan so members tracked and reported running, walking, losing weight and smoking less, all based on the honor system.
Good Samaritan donated more than $3,000 to charities locally and globally because of upside-down Lent. Everson said people in the community participated in the challenges, and many were excited about making a difference in the world.
"This is a great way for the church to open their eyes to the world around and to be involved in the community," says Everson. He was also happy that the participants formed healthy habits for better living.
Christine Kumar is a freelance writerr and adminstrator for the Baltimore-Metropolitan District, Baltimore Washington-Conference. Originally published in Interpreter magazine,January-February 2015.