Lent is Saved!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness is pleased to announce that Lent 2018 will go on as previously scheduled. For the first time since Jesus himself entered the wilderness, this was not a foregone conclusion. If Lent Madness did not receive the required 20,000 likes on its Facebook page, a Lent shutdown would have gone into effect, sending the Lenten-Industrial Complex into meltdown mode and dashing the penitential hopes of billions of faithful Christians.

Thanks to the surge in Facebook likes over the past two weeks -- over 2,000 -- Lent will proceed as usual. While this news was greeted with euphoria all over the globe, not everyone was overjoyed with the news. "Rats! Now I actually have to write an Ash Wednesday sermon," one priest stated on condition of anonymity. And reports have surfaced that the Hershey Corporation actively sought to suppress Lent by hacking into the Lent Madness website.


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We Love Lent!

Everybody knows we love Lent here at Lent Madness headquarters. What's not to love about a season specifically set aside to grow your faith and get closer to Jesus? This year, however, the Lenten love feels a bit more...passionate. We're not sure exactly why, but it may have to do with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine's Day.

This calendar mashup (first time since 1945) has us thinking about ways to share the Lenten love on February 14. Here are some suggestions:

1. Give your beloved some fancy chocolates that will be stale by the time they can finally be consumed after 40 days and 40 nights (you did give up chocolate for Lent this year, right?).

2. Put on sexy sack cloth -- you just never know when the mood will be right for some penitential action.

3. Use ashes for mascara before heading out for that romantic dinner.


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Free Lent Madness News Release

Is your parish doing Lent Madness this year? Would you like to share this news with the wider community and gain some publicity for your church? We can help.

What you'll find below is a news release you are welcome to modify for use in your own context. Want to throw in a quote from the person who's most passionate about Lent Madness in your congregation? Or add a picture of your parish display? We can't guarantee you'll receive coverage from your local newspaper but here a hint: they're generally desperate for content. And your church's participation in a fun, unusual Lenten learning opportunity is news!

So get creative and if you receive any media coverage, we'd love to hear about it and share your results with the broader Lent Madness community.


Great feature topic — religious, fun, seasonal, informative

  • Lent Madness “saintly smackdown” kicks off February 15
  • Online devotion inspired by NCAA’s March Madness
  • Pits 32 saints in elimination match with daily voting
  • Led by two Episcopal priests
  • Fresh way for Christians to engage the world with humor and faith


For Immediate Release

Date:               February 8, 2018
Contact:         The Rev. Tim Schenck
The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn


High Resolution graphics supplied on request

Local churches available for interviews in many media markets

Which Saint Will Win the Golden Halo?
Lent Madness kicks off February 15

For the ninth year running, people worldwide are gearing up for Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which thirty-two saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Calling itself the world’s most popular online Lenten devotion, Lent Madness brings together cut-throat competition, the lives of the saints, humor, and the chance to see how God works in the lives of women and men across all walks of life.

The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, sees much timeliness in this year’s edition. “During a time of great division and stress in our country, people are actively seeking role models who exemplify hope in a broken world.” Schenck, who is rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, continues, “The saints aren’t just distant figures trapped in stained glass windows. They were real people God used in inspiring ways, often during difficult times in human history. These are stories we need now more than ever.”

Lent Madness began on Schenck’s blog in 2010 as he sought a way to combine his love of sports with his passion for the lives of saints. Starting in 2012, he partnered with Forward Movement, an official ministry of the Episcopal Church, to bring Lent Madness to the masses.

The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Schenck’s Lent Madness co-conspirator, says, “As we see the ways Christ’s love burns brightly in a great variety of women and men, we see the possibility that Christ’s love can burn brightly in our own hearts.” Gunn, who is executive director of Forward Movement in Cincinnati, Ohio, adds, “It’s fun to build a competition around saints in all their diversity, but what they hold in common is a fierce determination to follow Jesus. There are no saints of the status quo."

Schenck and Gunn believe the world needs hopeful, forward-looking, inspirational role models now more than ever, and the saints of the church provide that. As a way of poking fun at church hierarchies and committees, they form the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee, a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that runs the entire operation.

Here’s how it works: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

This year Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. 2018 heavyweights include John the Evangelist, Margaret of Scotland, John Wesley, Katharina von Bora, and the apostles Peter and Paul.

This all kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 15. To participate, the public can visit the Lent Madness website, where participants can also print out a bracket for free to see how they fare or “compete” against friends and family members. Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas. Unlike professional and collegiate sporting events, there is no admission cost for Lent Madness, but souvenirs and study aids are available in the “Lentorium” section of the Lent Madness website.

Eleven “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project: the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; Anna Fitch Courie of Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Dr. David Creech of Moorhead, MN; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Kansas City, MO; Neva Rae Fox of Somerville, NJ; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, TX; Marcus Halley of Minneapolis, MN; Carol Howard Merrit of Cincinnati, OH; Emily McFarlan Miller of Chicago, IL; and the Rev. David Sibley of Manhasset, NY. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers and the rest of the team is available on the Lent Madness website.

This year’s Golden Halo winner will join illustrious company. Previous winners were George Herbert, 17th century English poet, 2010; C. S. Lewis, 20th century British writer and theologian, 2011; Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus, 2012; Frances Perkins, 20th century American public servant, 2013; Charles Wesley, 18th century English preacher and hymn writer, 2014; Francis of Assisi, 13th century monastic and advocate for the poor, 2015; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century German theologian and activist who was killed by the Nazis, 2016; and Florence Nightingale, 19th century nurse and social reformer, 2017.

People looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, are invited to join in the Lent Madness journey.

Lent Madness is sponsored by Forward Movement, whose mission is to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati since 1935, Forward Movement is an official ministry of the Episcopal Church producing resources to support Christians in their daily lives. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org.


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Celebrity Blogger Week: Anna Fitch Courie

Welcome to Celebrity Blogger Week! Over the next week (or so), we'll be highlighting the amazing people who will make the magic of Lent Madness 2018 happen. Our slate of 32 saints doesn't just come to life on its own (excluding the whole Resurrection thing). No, it takes our gifted Celebrity Bloggers to tell their stories in engaging ways and we're grateful to all of them for being part of the vaunted Lent Madness team.

If we're being honest, it will take more than just one week to highlight our 11 celebrity bloggers and a few others like our Bracket Czar and Celebrity Chef. But Celebrity Blogger Fortnight just doesn't have the same ring. So enjoy reading about these fantastic folks. We share their basic bios and then ask them to answer three carefully hand-crafted questions. We've also asked them to provide a photo of them doing something they're passionate about (besides writing saintly bios).

In case you were wondering about the lineup presented, we run these features in the order in which they are received. So Anna Fitch Courie is number one because she submitted her responses to the Supreme Executive Committee first. Also, she's Number One because she is the defending Golden Halo Champion, having shepherded Florence Nightingale to the highest of honors in 2017. But that's just mere coincidence.

Anna Fitch Courie

Anna Fitch Courie Anna Fitch Courie is an army wife, nurse, layperson, and the author of “Christ Walk: A 40 Day Spiritual Fitness Program” (Church Publishing, Inc., 2015); “Christ Walk Kids” (Church Publishing, 2016); “Sally the Comet” (CreateSpace, 2015); “Sally and the Constellations” (CreateSpace, 2017), and “The Adventures of Cancer Girl and God” (Church Publishing, 2018). Anna finds her calling where health and spirituality intersect. Anna is a registered nurse by training and has been working in the health care field for the past twenty years. More recently, she has been a consultant on building community coalitions on health. Anna is a graduate of Clemson University, the University of Wyoming, and Education for Ministry at Sewanee: the University of the South. She is currently enrolled at Ohio State University in the Doctoral in Nursing Practice program. In her spare time, she fights cancer, consults in public health, and runs Christ Walk, retreats, writes books, and blogs for “50 Days of Fabulous” and “Lent Madness.” In her dream world, she hikes the El Camino and Mount Rainier, sails, travels, cooks, reads, and attends every Clemson football game each season. Home is wherever the Army (and God) sends her. You can find her on her blog at Christ Walk; on Facebook; on Twitter @christwalk1; and on Instagram @christwalk1.


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"Monday" Madness -- January 16, 2018

Tim and Scott may not be able to turn water into wine, but one of the great advantages of being Supreme is the ability to change Tuesday into Monday. Because yesterday was a holiday (celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., prophet and sometime Lent Madness competitor), Tim and Scott are releasing Monday Madness on Tuesday.

Yes, folks, we are entering Lent Madness high season. Ash Thursday is February 15! Which means you can now look forward to weekly videos to put you in the Lenten mood and prepare for the Madness that is to come.

We suggest you dim the purple lights and head over to the bracket page of the website to find out who's in this year's competition and when they are competing. You can study the saints on Wikipedia, in your public library, or by wandering through European cathedrals. Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't also tell you about the fabulous Saintly Scorecard. It's a steal at just three bucks. You can buy them in bulk for $2 each, and if you buy 30 or more copies, they're just a dollar each (sold in sets of 10). The scorecard is also available for your favorite e-reader (Kindle, Nook, and iBooks).

You can also either print your own personal bracket or buy a giant bracket poster.

Whatever you do, make sure you're getting ready for Lent Madness!


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BREAKING NEWS: 2018 Bracket Leaked!

In a disconcerting turn of events, the Supreme Executive Committee has confirmed that a portion of the 2018 Lent Madness bracket has been illegally leaked online. The hack into the Lent Madness system comes just ahead of All Brackets' Day on November 3rd, when the entire bracket of 32 saints will be officially released to the public.

"We're pretty sure it was the work of the international hacking organization LentiLeaks," said Lent Madness founder Tim Schenck.


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Lent Madness Play-In Round at EYE!

For most people, "Oklahoma" evokes images of cowboys, surreys with fringes on top, and perhaps Sooners. The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness, however, are not most people. Mix in 1,000 teenagers and 100 degree weather and the SEC sees nothing but Lent!

That's right, Tim and Scott are in Oklahoma City for the Episcopal Church's triennial Episcopal Youth Event and they are busy spreading Lenten joy wherever they go. "Oh, what a beautiful morning," indeed. But handing out hundreds of Golden Halo Flying Discs and taking selfies with throngs of young Lent Madness fans is a mere precursor to the main event: a play-in match to determine the first saint to make it into the 2018 Lent Madness bracket.

The young people here at EYE will soon be casting what will likely be the most important vote of their lives as they help shape next year's Saintly Smackdown. On Thursday at lunch they will decide between two "badass saints" -- Longinus and Quiteria. According to the Internet, these two saints are the most truly badass saints in Christian history. Who are these two saintly souls? Tim and Scott explain in a video that will be shown on the big screen to the 1,400 youth and adults here in Oklahoma. Check it out!


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