The Souper Bowl of
In 1990 (Columbia, S. C.), on the Sunday morning of the Super Bowl
football game, a simple pastoral prayer inspired a youth-led movement to help hungry and
hurting people around the world. The prayer was, "Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl
football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to
This simple prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then
a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to
an idea. Why not ask parishioners to give one dollar each for the needy as they leave worship
on Super Bowl Sunday? Young people could receive the donations then send every dollar
DIRECTLY to the charity of their choice. Participants would only be asked to report their
results so that the totals could be determined.
The senior high youth of Spring Valley
Presbyterian liked the idea so much they decided to invite other area churches to join the
team. Twenty-two Columbia churches participated that first year, sending $5,700 to area
ministries that help needy people. That was 1990.
The effort went statewide in 1991 and national in
1993. In 1997, youth groups in congregations across the country broke the million dollar
barrier, sending $1.1 million to charities in their respective communities. Later that year
an ecumenical Board was formed to take over the guidance and governance of the Souper
In January 2001, roughly 125,000 young people in
over 12,500 congregations and schools put God's love in action, generating $3.6 million to
help hungry and hurting people. Remarkably, all of this was done without the benefit of
full-time staff. In November of 2001, the Souper Bowl of Caring achieved another milestone when the Council of Stewards
hired Brad Smith to serve as the full-time Executive Director of this grassroots movement of
Since the Souper Bowl's inception and late 2013, youth
participants have generated an aggregate of over $98 million, 100% of which has gone to local soup
kitchens, food banks and other charities in communities across the USA in which the funds were collected. In addition, more
and more youth are serving hands-on at the charity their group supports. On 1 Feb. 2014, Spring Valley Presbyterian Church began what they hope will be an associated annual Saturday Day of Service event to go along with the cash collections on Super Bowl Sunday. In 2010, Tracy
Bender became the new President & CEO as Rev. Brad Smith became senior pastor at
Eastminister Presbyterian Church in Columbia in 2009 and is still there as of Super Bowl weekend, 2014.
With this strong history, the Souper
Bowl of Caring is poised to touch even more lives in the years to come, its headquarters having moved to Houston, Texas with support from the Houston Texans owner, R. C. "Bob" McNair (no kin to former S. C. governor, R. E. McNair).
***give me your comments about this
[posted 6 Feb. 2002; latest addition 1 Feb.
You have just read a very brief example of the
powerful, supernatural transformation of a person's life which is possible through the
acceptance of Jesus as your savior. Are you tired of life as it now is for you? He will
accept you just as you are right this second! Consider accepting Jesus now