United Methodists Raise Over $56,000 for Hunger Relief through the Good Competition: Super Bowl Challenge in California and Ohio
Even as the noise of our LA Rams victory celebrations have died down, we have one more piece to celebrate – United Methodists in Cincinnati and Los Angeles together raised over $56,000 for efforts to alleviate hunger in our communities – fitting for Super Bowl 56. Our Los Angeles United Methodists raised a total of $17,458.59 for hunger relief. The grand total raised was $56,037.97–this means that even though the Bengals lost the football contest, they outdid Los Angeles in this effort to feed hungry people.
Church leaders in both cities were inspired to a friendly “competition” paralleling the Super Bowl matchup, following the lead of Bengals star Joe Burrow, who continually brings attention to hunger in Ohio.
“Considering the millions of dollars spent on the Super Bowl, and the millions of people in both cities dealing with food insecurity…we wondered if there was a way to mobilize the energy around Super Bowl to do some good,” said Pastor David Meredith. Rev. Meredith serves the United Methodist regional office (West Ohio Conference’s Ohio River Valley District) as Director of Urban Ministries, and his co-worker at Clifton United Methodist Church, Pastor Robert English, formerly served in Los Angeles in the California-Pacific Conference’s West District.
The two pastors reached out to Mark Nakagawa, Superintendent of the California-Pacific West District, and Todd Anderson, Superintendent of the Ohio River Valley District, and received an enthusiastic response and agreement to a friendly competition from both. Both cities’ church leaders challenged their parishioners: give proportionally based on your Super Bowl spending, ask your party guests to bring items for a food drive, ask the organizers of your betting pool to set aside a donation, or take a collection at a watch party.
Westwood United Methodist Church in Cincinnati and Westwood United Methodist Church in Los Angeles agreed to their own competition, with the “losing” pastor having to wear the rival team’s apparel to church on Sunday. Because the “winner” was determined not from the outcome on the field, but from the outcome of the fundraising, Rev. Molly Vetter of Westwood California would wear the Bengals stole previously worn by Rev. Brian Bucher of Westwood Cincinnati.
As we acknowledge and honor that Cincinnati technically “won” this Good Competition, we also celebrate that the real “winners” are the recipients of food and monetary donations, who will experience a respite from the constant stress of food insecurity. “The real Super Bowl competition is to outdo one another in doing all the good we can for those who struggle to put adequate, healthy food on their table,” says Pastor David Meredith.