A FLURRY of initiatives has been launched to urge people to mark
Lent in more creative ways than giving up chocolate.
On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Roman
Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols,
announced a joint initiative urging people to pray for church
outreach during Lent.
During Holy Week the two archbishops will pray daily, giving
thanks for the work churches do to help the needy. They also
ecnouraged others to join them, and to share accounts of what their
church is doing on Twitter, using the hashtag #ListenToGod.
Many other Lent projects focus on counting one's blessings and
include "doing one nice thing" each day to giving money.
The Do1NiceThing initiative encourages people to carry out an
activity each day to enhance their communities, from being a better
driver to running an Easter street party.It is organised by the
campaign Love Your Streets, and backed by the charities Care,
Streetbank, and Hope.
In a similar vein, the 40 Act of Generosity challenge, which is
now in its fourth year, asks people to be "big-hearted" during
Also, the diocese of Guildford, in partnership with Christian
Aid, is running a daily programme to encourage people to pray and
to donate to help young carers in Surrey and children in
There are an estimated 12,000 young carers in the diocese, and
in Afghanistan more than one in ten children die before the age of
five. The diocesan Count your Blessings Lent project asks
participants to give 50p for every time they have been helped to
look after a loved one, and 10p for every fifth birthday
On Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday next week, Christian leaders
in West and North Yorkshire will be distributing food to foodbanks
and soup kitchens. Pancakes will be dished up and given out on the
steps of Wakefield Cathedral on Tuesday.
On Ash Wednesday, commuters at Ealing, in west London, will be
offered "ashes to go" by Christians at the tube station.
On the same day, in villages and towns near Worcester, the
Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, will be among those collecting
prayer requests. Dr Inge said that the prayer initiative had been
running for five years, and that people "really appreciated
In the south-west, six dioceses have teamed up with the charity
Tearfund to run a carbon fast, encouraging individuals and churches
to cut their carbon emissions by up to 40 per cent.
As part of the initiative, Exeter Cathedral is switching off
most of its floodlighting during Lent. The Dean, the Very Revd
Jonathan Draper, said: "Less light at the west end of the cathedral
by shutting off the floodlights will be a visible symbol of our
need to cut the carbon, and be part of how we address the
challenges of climate change." He said that Christians were called
to make the world a better place.
For those who would still like to abstain from particular foods
during Lent, the charity Animal Aid is asking people to give up
meat during March as part of its Big Veg Pledge.
A MANSFIELD priest will fast throughout Lent in
solidarity with those going hungry across Britain because they
cannot afford to eat.
The Revd Dr Keith Hebden, associate priest in the parish
of St Mark's, Mansfield, will drink only water and one glass of
fruit juice a day from Ash Wednesday until Easter.
Dr Hebden said: "I believe the Church should stand in
solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable. The Government has
a duty of care to act and provide a basic safety net for its own
citizens. But with so many relying on foodbanks and people having
to choose whether to eat or heat their home, it seems it is failing
in that duty."
Dr Hebden, aged 38, said that he hoped others would join
him and fast for a day or a week during Lent, as part of the End
Hunger Fast campaign.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Dr
Hebden said that he has been preparing for his 40-day ordeal by
cutting down how much he eats to shrink his stomach. He has also
stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine.
"Throughout the fast I will not describe myself as
hungry," he said. "Hunger is when you haven't got any food. I am
doing it in solidarity with people who actually are