Be alcohol free for Lent!

It’s back! Once again, the General Board of Church & Society is encouraging you to be “Alcohol Free for Lent.”

Alcohol Free Lent logo

Last year’s first “Alcohol Free Lent” campaign generated lots of media interest and many calls from churches and their members. Fifty churches in 22 states, the District of Columbia and nations overseas, accepted our challenge last year.

Many individuals did also, even though the challenge was targeted specifically at congregations. By popular request, we are expanding the challenge this year to include small groups and individual commitments in addition to pledges from local churches.

Lent, Feb. 22 to April 8, is just around the corner! Plan now to make the pledge to go alcohol free during Lent: Alcohol Free Lent.

It is indeed a provocative and challenging commitment, not only for yourself, but also for your friends and family.

This call to remain alcohol free during Lent is intended to inspire an international discussion among United Methodists.

Everyone must grapple daily with the influence of alcohol on our lives, whether we drink or not. 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.

We hope the international conversation inspired by this campaign raises awareness and sheds light on how our behavior is influenced by societal attitudes, policies of our countries and alcohol industry marketing.

The United Methodist Church’s historic commitment to advocacy on issues related to addiction to alcohol and other drugs has led to major public-policy shifts and initiatives both in the United States and around the globe. People who work closely on public policy in this field know that The United Methodist Church is committed to these issues for the long haul.

United Methodist Social Principle
The Social Community
Alcohol & Other Drugs

We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons. We support abstinence from the use of any illegal drugs. Since the use of illegal drugs, as well as illegal and problematic use of alcohol, is a major factor in crime, disease, death, and family dysfunction, we support educational programs as well as other prevention strategies encouraging abstinence from illegal drug use and, with regard to those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, judicious use with deliberate and intentional restraint, with Scripture as a guide. (¶162L)

We affirm in our Social Principles “our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons.”

This opening salvo in our Social Principle challenges each of us to rethink ways we interact with alcohol and live out this witness in daily life, build awareness and pledge our time and gifts to make a difference.

The Rev. James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C., did just that by launching the prototype Alcohol Free Lent campaign in his church a few years ago. Myers Park members accepted the challenge, exceeding expectations by also raising $25,901 for a local recovery project through a “Spirit Fund” related to the campaign.

You can establish a spirit fund too, as an individual, small group or church. We’ve listed recommendations for giving opportunities among worthy organizations accomplishing significant work confronting alcohol addiction. To learn more about the Myers Park story read “How about a spirit fund?” by Howell, who is also a member of the GBCS board of directors.

We hope Alcohol Free Lent inspires you and encourages your congregation to issue its own challenge this year. We encourage you to make your alcohol-free pledge concrete by taking action:

  • Super Bowl: As you prepare to go alcohol free, we encourage teenagers to participate in a special “Big Bowl Vote” sponsored by the Drug Free Action Alliance during the Super Bowl. For a free toolkit go to Big Bowl Vote.
  • Preach sermons or feature special worship moments to build awareness about alcohol and its ability to addict, and offer practical suggestions for help.
  • Establish a spirit fund to benefit a local recovery/addiction prevention project or one of the worthy national projects listed later ih this article.
  • All of these actions and more are available on our Web site at Alcohol Free Lent. In addition, GBCS’s e-newsletter, Faith in Action, will feature articles, discussion questions and other resources to guide you through this year’s Alcohol Free Lenten season. Articles addressing a variety of alcohol-related subjects from last year’s campaign are at the end of this article.

    National Alcohol Prevention Advocacy Organizations

    The following organizations are officially endorsed coalitions/groups in partner relationship with the General Board of Church & Society on issues related to alcohol and other drugs prevention policy advocacy, resourcing and training. As such, they align with United Methodist Church position statements on Alcohol & Other Drugs. (Social Principle ¶162L, M, 2008 Book of Discipline.

  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
  • Center on Alcohol Marketing & Youth
  • Faces 7 Voices of Recovery
  • National Assn. for Children of Alcoholics
  • National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence
  • To get involved, register your participation here: [Logo link]

    Editor's note: Editor’s note: The Rev. Cynthia Abrams directs the Alcohol, Other Addictions & Health Care work area at the General Board of Church & Society.

    For more on alcohol and other addictions, visit the Alcohol & Other Addictions page on the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) Web site: Alcohol & Other Addictions.

    Action Network

    Cynthia Abrams supervises an “Action Network” that provides legislative updates, educational resources and identifies opportunities to act on issues involving alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, gambling and pornography. Information focuses on addiction recovery, prevention and regulation. She issues “action alerts” periodically through e-mail.

    Joining the Alcohol & Other Addictions Action Network is free: go to or click on My GBCS on the General Board of Church & Society Web site,, or you can contact Donna Brandyberry, (202) 488-5641.

    For more information, contact the Rev. Cynthia Abrams, (202) 488-5636.

    Alcohol Free Lent 2011

  • Alcohol Free Lent” (Faith in Action, Feb. 8, 2011).
  • Word from Winkler — ‘Alcohol Free Lent’,” (Faith in Action, March 10, 2011)
  • Drinking socially or for health?” (Faith in Action, March 18, 2011)
  • Confronting alcohol’s global impact” (Faith in Action, March 29, 2011)
  • Alcohol marketing and young people” (Faith in Action, April 6, 2011)
  • Ministry with alcoholics” (Faith in Action, April 14, 2011)
  • Cheap alcohol’s high cost,” (Faith in Action, April 21, 2011)
  • Reflections on resurrection” (Faith in Action, April 28, 2011)
  • Letter to the Editor