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Published on July 27th, 2015 | by ABCUSA

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Five million pennies in five months! Can we do it?

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/27/15)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) asks churches and organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico to remember our children, especially those struggling with issues related to poverty, by raising pennies, each one representing a child whose life is limited by inadequate resources for nurture and nourishment.

The Penny Project began six years ago with an original goal of 14 million pennies—10 million of which have been raised to date. Raising 5 million additional pennies will increase the total to 15 million, which ABHMS hopes to reach by Dec.15, 2015.

Since the project’s inception, the number of children living in poverty in the United States and Puerto Rico has increased. “Unfortunately, 15 million more closely reflects the actual number of children in poverty in the United States and Puerto Rico,” says the Rev. Lisa Harris Lee, ABHMS national coordinator of the Penny Project and Justice for Children Initiative. “That’s the reason, as the project nears conclusion, our motto has become ‘5 million pennies in five months!’ We can do this!”

More than 230 churches—many of them letting their Sunday school classes take the lead—have participated in the project since its inception, donating the money to good causes that make a difference in their communities.

Project participants and donation recipients have included the following: Community Baptist Church in Tulsa donated its Penny Project collection—totaling $839.19—to a local food bank; Community Baptist Church, Marion, Mass., divided more than $2,023 among two elementary schools, a transitional home for women, and an organization that donates diapers and other infant-related supplies to young mothers living in poverty; and Living Word Baptist Church, Beachwood, N.J., donated $260 to a local food bank.

What your group can do now do now:

Churches and parishioners are asked to share the following information by logging on to www.14millionpennies.org:

• How much change has your church or organization collected?
• How has the money been put to use with children in your community?

“No amount of change is too small to report,” Lee says. “Every penny is a valuable representation of a child in poverty.”

In addition, use the hashtag #pennies4change when posting about the Penny Project on social media accounts. Share the ABHMS Facebook post to increase Penny Project visibility within your congregation.

A variety of resources are available to energize your church’s Penny Project collecting, including a brochure, mini-poster, litany, an issue of The Christian Citizen magazine and the following podcasts:

• “Kylen Rowland, 11, shares her inspiration for the Penny Project that she launched
at age 9” (8/22/2012, 7:15 minutes) and

• “The Rev. David Lundholm, retired associate executive director of American Baptist Churches of Nebraska, talks about participating in the Penny Project” (6/27/2012; 8:01 minutes).

What participants have said about the project:

• “The children in our church were excited to participate. We were the church that pushed the Penny Project over the 1 million mark in November 2009! We donated our pennies to a shelter for abused women and children in our area so they could buy school supplies for the children and help the mothers to buy Christmas gifts for their children.”
— Joy Johnston, New Winchester (Ind.) Baptist Church

• “In December, we put the Penny Project stickers on huge stockings that we hung throughout the church, and people deposited their loose change and pennies into the stockings. In the spring, I gave them all plastic Easter eggs to fill. The money will go to our local food pantry to assist families in need.”
— Barbara Anderson, Trinity Baptist Church, Arlington, Mass.

• “We set a large, office-type water-fountain bottle on a Red Flyer wagon, which we wheeled to the front of the sanctuary each Sunday. … We would ask people to come forward with their pennies. Our congregation responded in wonderful fashion—everyone—children, adults, elderly. … We felt God’s presence strongly in our sanctuary during these months. Sometimes we laughed when people came forward with their pennies; sometimes we cried. Every Sunday we marveled.”
— The Rev. Dennis Christiansen, pastor, First Baptist Church, Trumansburg, N.Y.

For more information about the Penny Project, contact Lee at lisa.harris-lee@abhms.org.

ABHMS—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.


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