Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Create an Experience at the National Gathering in June



By Carlos Navarro

I don't remember how many Bread for the World national gatherings I have attended, but I know I don't have enough fingers to count them all. All I can tell you is that each one offers a unique experience.

This leads to an obvious question: can I name my most memorable national gathering?  In many cases, one tends to remember the entire gathering by a single unforgettable experience, and that is the case with the two I selected.

The first one was back in the 1990s, and the experience came during Lobby Day. It wasn't necessarily the actual visits to the congressional offices, but the reception. I was surprised when both my senator and my representative came to the reception. And it wasn't just a matter of them accepting the printed invitation that I left with their aides during the visits to their offices—they asked for me at the door!

The second great experience was in 2005, when we had the first of two Interfaith Convocations at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on the Monday of the national gathering. The church was bursting at its seams with representatives from many faith traditions. Of course, there were many Christian denominations from across the spectrum, but the people gathered in the church also reflected Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other traditions. They shared verses from their sacred scriptures, spelling out our common responsibility to seek the common good by ensuring that everyone is fed, clothed and housed. And there was music and celebration from all our traditions as well. I can still hear the drums beating and the entire congregation singing in Zulu, English, and Spanish: “Siyahamb' ekukhanyen' kwenkhos' (We are marching in the light of God/ Caminamos en la luz de Dios).” 

We had a second interfaith convocation at the National Cathedral as part of the 2007 national gathering, and it was great too.  But the first experience in 2005 was the one that stands out for me.

I can recall great memories from other national gatherings, too, including the first time I went to D.C. on behalf of Bread. And then there's the 35th anniversary reception, when composer and singer Marty Haugen helped us celebrate the occasion with a song he wrote for Bread for the World

I also remember a different kind of "singing" at another gathering.  Remember the time when Bread President David Beckmann and the ONE Campaign fellows on staff did karaoke to Aretha Franklin's song Respect?

If you haven't been to a national gathering (or even if you have), I invite you to consider joining us in Washington, D.C., this year to create your own great experience. Who knows, there might be something about this gathering that will make it one of your favorites. The events and the learning experiences and the advocacy are all important. But it is those great interactions with other anti-hunger advocates that add a great richness to these occasions

Here is the tentative schedule for this year's national gathering:

  • June 8-10: 2013 National Gathering
  • June 10: International Meeting on Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • June 11: 2013 Lobby Day

For more information, check out the 2013 National Gathering site or contact your regional organizer. Want to know what you can expect from a Bread for the World National Gathering? View materials from the 2011 National Gathering.

If for some reason you are unable to come this year, then start planning for 2014. That is Bread's 40th birthday, and you know that is an occasion to celebrate!

[This article originally appeared on the Bread New Mexico blog.]

Carlos Navarro has been a Bread member for over 20 years and has led Bread’s presence in New Mexico for the last decade. He maintains the Bread for the World New Mexico website and blog, and serves on the Bread for the World board of directors.


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