Ask a Pastor: Why Should We Talk to Congress About U.S. Food Aid?
Rev. Dave Buerstetta blesses an offering of letters at the Woodridge United Methodist church outside of Chicago, Ill. Assisting him are Jason Shubert (l) and Tim Waynick. (Patti Cash)
Rev. Dave Buerstetta of Woodridge United Methodist Church in Chicago, Ill., recently added his name to a letter asking his senator to protect food aid. We asked him why he thought it was important for the faith community to be part of the conversation on food aid with Congress. Here is what he said:
Loving God with our whole selves and loving our neighbors as ourselves requires seeking justice. Seeking justice requires trying to change the cultural systems that make, and keep, people poor or hungry or oppressed. So seeking justice – transforming systems to better emulate the Reign of God on earth, for which we pray every single week – requires advocacy.
We have some neighbors who are hungry. We have other neighbors who are members of Congress with the power to keep 2 million more neighbors from becoming hungry. Of course we should talk with members of Congress about this! We cannot let ourselves be scared off from the vital work of justice advocacy simply because doing so means engaging in the political process. That's how systems are changed.
In other words, in addition to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, we must also seek to be the voice of Jesus in the world, speaking with and for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. That is why I added my name to the letter; that is why I hope you will too.
Buerstetta practices what he preaches. The letter to his Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asking him to protect food aid for 2 million people is an example of seeking justice and loving our neighbor. As a leader in Congress, Sen. Durbin can influence policy that affects how much food the United States can deliver to people in need overseas — and as a constituent, Buerstetta can influence Sen.Durbin.
Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would decrease the amount of assistance the U.S. can give while increasing profits for shipping companies. The Senate is now writing its version of the bill, and we are asking senators that any legislation to increase transportation costs for shipping food aid be stripped from the bill. Several senators have been targeted as having particular influence at this time. We are asking faith leaders from Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia to urge their senators to protect U.S. food aid. The letters will be delivered in person on Tuesday, June 10.
You can read more about Rev. Buerstetta’s work in the Nov. 2012 edition of Bread for the World’s newsletter.
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