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170 posts categorized "Bible on Hunger"
[This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post.]
When I open my Bible, it isn't hard to find a verse that underscores our responsibility as Christians to care for the least among us. Proverbs 19:17 tells us, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." Unfortunately, some members of Congress don't buy into this notion. They believe instead that taking care of the most vulnerable people in our society is for the church to do alone.
Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget resolution for fiscal year 2013 that places a heavy burden on poor Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) to feed their families. The House recommended cutting more than $169 billion from SNAP. Some representatives even argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of churches, not government.
But churches can't be solely responsible for feeding poor women, children, seniors and disabled people. We also need strong government programs. In fact, all of the food churches and charities provide to hungry and poor people in the United States amounts to only about 6 percent of what the federal government spends on programs such as SNAP and school meals for students.
The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. If the House's proposals to cut SNAP by $133.5 billion and $36 billion are enacted, each congregation will have to spend about $50,000 more annually to feed those who would see a reduction or loss of benefits. Some congressional leaders are essentially saying that every church in America -- big or tiny -- needs to come up with an extra $50,000 to feed people every year for the next 10 years to make up for these cuts.
In response, Bread for the World asked people to tell members of Congress that churches can't be solely responsible for feeding hungry people. Thousands from around the country answered our call, telling us they just can't afford to do more than they're currently doing. Here are a few of their comments:
"As a small church in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we are inundated with needs all around us. The proposed cost is more than we pay our full-time minister for compensation, the only full-time staff we have. We contribute to multiple charities that distribute food to those who are in need in order to ensure the best stewardship of our resources. And, yet, we are still not able to meet all of the needs. These cuts will overwhelm us." --Sarah from Arlington, Texas
"Feeding the hungry is not a choice -- it is a moral imperative. But the food pantries and soup kitchens in this area funded by the generosity of church members already are serving those in need at capacity and beyond in these tough economic times. We are doing our part. We expect that our government will do the same." --Alexandra from Troy, N.Y.
"Addressing the needs of the hungry and poor is something that requires BOTH local congregation action and ALSO local and national government support. I urge our legislators at all levels to maintain strong support of government programs that help the poor and needy." --Brian from Fond Du Lac, Wis.
"Already we get innumerable calls for emergency assistance. We have no idea how these families are sufficiently getting the necessary nutrients for their children and family. To increase the number of people would be overwhelming and those churches who try to help with their shrinking congregations might totally give up." -Tempe of Jamestown, N.C.
"We fed over 32,000 people last year and we are tapped! We can barely pay our own bills, and if we are pushed any further we won't be able to keep our doors open, thus NOT being able to feed the ones we already are!! PLEASE DON'T cut any feeding programs." -Kirk of Sparks, Nev.
It's time for members of Congress to tell people -- like Brian from Wisconsin, Alexandra from New York, Tempe from North Carolina and Sarah from Texas -- that they're going to do their part and support legislation that creates a circle of protection around programs that are vital to hungry and poor people.
Photo caption: Senior Pastor Judith VanOsdol leads the noon church service at El Milagro (The Miracle) Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. The parish, which is Spanish-English bilingual, is made up of many members who depend on WIC and SNAP to feed their families. VanOsdol spent 17 years as a missionary pastor in South America. Photograph by Laura Elizabeth Pohl
Photo by Flickr user mrsdkrebs
"Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread; and by our understanding love, give peace and joy."
--Mother Teresa of Calcutta
"Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread; and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen."
~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta
(From left to right) Peter Vander Muelen, Office of Social Justice at the Christian Reformed Church in North America; David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Andrew Ryskamp, director of Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC); and Ida Kaastra Mutoigo, director of CRWRC Canada gathered in Grand Rapids, MI, to celebrate CRWRC's 50th anniversary on Friday, May 4, 2012. Photo by Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy.
While Bread for the World’s niche is Christian policy advocacy, we often partner with dozens of church entities that respond to global poverty with relief and development programs and ministries. Organizations such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) operate as the “official development arms” of the national church bodies reflected in their names. The on-the-ground wisdom and best development practices of these organizations inform Bread’s policy advocacy analysis and policy platforms about what works.
This past Friday evening, Bread for the World had the honor of celebrating the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Grand Rapids, MI. The Christian Reformed Church, with about 280,000 members in the United States and Canada, and its relief arm, CRWRC, with an impressive budget of about $40 million, celebrated its five decades of work in 86 countries.
Along with tens of thousands of Christian activists and thousands of congregations, relief and development organizations help to strengthen Bread’s “collective Christian voice to end hunger.” It was an honor for Bread’s president David Beckmann to reflect with CRWRC staff, board, and donors and consider the unique contributions CRWRC made in the life of Bread for the World.
CRWRC is a partner of the Alliance to End Hunger. Also, the Christian Reformed Church has faithfully supported Bread’s Hunger Report for the last 20 years.
Andy Ryskamp, CRWRC’s executive director in the U.S., has been closely involved with two of Bread’s more recent high-profile religious-leader events aimed to engage influential evangelicals in foreign assistance reform: the evangelical consultation hosted at Wheaton College 2010 and its predecessor consultation hosted by Dallas Baptist University in 2011. Ryskamp’s involvement in these initiatives helped attract other CEO’s from evangelical development organizations to participate in these events and to articulate why evangelical Christians should engage in advocacy, especially around U.S. foreign assistance.
CRWRC will change its name to World Renew this summer to reflect the wider reach of its relief and development ministries across the globe.
CRWRC’s commitment to local leadership, capacity building, empowerment, collaboration, and integral mission has impacted thousands of communities around the world. These aspects of CRWRC’s development work shape the kinds of effective development programming and policies that Bread for the World advocates for stateside.
Thank you for you partnership CRWRC. Happy 50th anniversary!
Photo by Flickr user silent shot
The dramatic cuts of $169 billion to SNAP proposed this year in the U.S. House would have a devastating impact on all of our congregations’ efforts to address increasing need.
Every church across America would need to come up with, on average, an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people — every year for the next 10 years — to make up for these cuts.
Sign our petition now to say feeding hungry people is not the sole responsibility of churches. Here’s what a few people who have already signed the petition shared with us:
- “My church is situated in a community of high need in Los Angeles County. Our church's Food Pantry already serves over 400 people per week out of a garage. We are already at the breaking point! The need is real and raw. We absolutely cannot do this without the help of our elected leaders!”
— Daniel in Bellflower, CA
- “Our area churches are already collecting and handing out food in massive amounts simply to SUPPLEMENT those on SNAP and yet the shelves run empty time and time again. This is not a time for cutting programs that affect our most vulnerable, but a time to stand in solidarity with them.”
— Katherine in Arlington, VA
- "2,000 folks per month pass through one of our ministries in Gary, IN, homeless and without food. This would be devastating both to them and to us. We are barely making it now.”
— Bob in Donaldson, IN
We have to tell Congress — and tell them again and again — that they must create a circle of protection around programs that are vital to hungry and poor people. And then we must pray hard that they will listen to their conscience as upright, moral persons of faith.
Thank you for your voice!
Photo by Flickr user by visual.dichotomy
Last week, we shared with you that the House of Representatives just proposed to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP, formerly the food stamps program. Some representatives argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of the churches.
These representatives are essentially saying that on average every church across America — big, small, and tiny — needs to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people — every year for the next 10 years — to make up for these cuts. Bread for the World launched a petition and asked everyone to sign on and tell Congress that churches cannot be the only ones responsible for feeding hungry people.
Thousands of people signed the petition, and many shared their own stories and comments. Here are comments that some of you left:
"A good number of our students at Ancilla College have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0.00. Some of them rely on SNAP for food for themselves and sometimes for their families (non-traditional students). In their effort to better themselves and thus be better prepared to make contributions to society [they] need the support of SNAP." --Carleen from Donadlson, IN
"Alfred Parish UCC is already sending a lot of food through 2 different feeding programs and providing a monthly free meal to people who come through the doors. We don't have the means to 'pick up' and do the kind of work that our Federal Government can do. The SNAP Program must be continued." --Bruce from Alfred, ME
"As a small church in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we are inundated with needs all around us. The proposed cost is more than we pay our full-time minister for compensation, the only full-time staff we have. We contribute to multiple charities that distribute food to those who are in need in order to insure the best stewardship of our resources. And, yet, we are still not able to meet all of the needs, these cuts will overwhelm us." --Sarah from Arlington, TX
"As program manager of the Northeast Emergency Food Program of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, we serve 11,000 unduplicated individuals each year. We do so through a wonderful partnership of congregations, businesses, individuals, other nonprofits, and the government. In the past three years, the number of our clients has increased by over 40%. There is no way we can make up for either the loss of food provided by the USDA or the influx of clients who would lose benefits such as SNAP. And there is no way our church partners could fill the gap." --Howard from Portland, OR
"Feeding the hungry is not a choice -- it is a moral imperative. But the food pantries and soup kitchens in this area funded by the generosity of church members already are serving those in need at capacity and beyond in these tough economic times. We are doing our part. We expect that our government will do the same." --Alexandra from Troy, NY
"It is a sign of a healthy country when the government cares for its poor. It is a sign of an abuse of power when the government determines that only the religious communities are responsible for caring for its poor. The move to cut billions from funding that will care for the poor will show the world that the leaders of the US care only about power, dominance and control. We stand at risk of losing our way, our heart, our very notion that all are created equal and ought to have equal access to meeting basic needs." --Jan from Raleigh, NC
Thanks to everyone who signed this petition -- and if you haven't yet, join your voice with thousands of other people of faith who believe that we must all work together to end hunger.
At Bread for the World, we employ a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds. Often, this creates cause for robust dialogue on current events. We thought we’d let you peek into one of these very exchanges – this time between Amelia Kegan, senior policy analyst in our government relations department, and Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF who manages Bread’s relations with Catholic churches in our church relations department. The two discussed the recent comments made by Rep. Paul Ryan about the House proposed budget, Catholic social teaching, and its implications on U.S. budget policy.
Check out their exchange below, and weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section!
Amelia: Last month, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution, and its author, Congressman Ryan, recently spoke about how that budget fits with Catholic social teaching. At Bread, we’ve been pretty critical of that budget because it has some fairly extreme cuts to programs to poor and vulnerable populations and fails to create a circle of protection around those programs. Sister Margaret, how does Catholic social teaching inform your view of this budget? How and why is it different from Chairman Ryan’s view?
Sister Margaret Mary: Catholic social teaching is integral to how we act on our values and on our mission. One of the basic principles of Catholic social teaching is the principle of human dignity. Every person, regardless of race, sex, age, religion, health, or other differences is worthy of respect. It’s not what you do or what you have that establishes this respect. It’s simply by being human that establishes this dignity. It’s the Catholic view that human dignity is not a means. It’s always an end. So we don’t separate any group from what they need to live.
Amelia: So, how does the House proposed budget violate some of the basic concepts of Catholic social teaching?
Sister Margaret Mary: There are two significant pieces of Catholic social teaching: charity and justice. Everyone is deserving of both. In the House passed budget, it explains the concept of charity without the concept of justice. Neither one — charity or justice — is the total responsibility of the church. This budget seems to put everything of the charity on the churches.
Congressman Ryan talks about subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is certainly a part of Catholic social teaching that teaches us how we need to act. But solidarity is being at one with all of humanity, and needs to go hand-in-hand with Catholic social teaching. That’s the principle of human equality, and is part of what we teach our children—to be fair.
Amelia: Should our governmental leaders take cues from Catholic Social teaching when they are not even Catholics?
Sister Margaret Mary: Catholic social teaching is for everyone. It comes from scripture and tradition, but it’s broader than that. Fairness and human dignity are values that everyone has; they’re not exclusively Catholic. Catholic social teaching shows us that each one of us is sacred. We carry the spirit of Jesus within us. The principle of the common good requires establishing social structures that preserve the good of the community. Absence of any concern for or sensitivity of the common good is a sure sign of a society in need of help.
Some in Congress talk about how programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps), unemployment insurance, the EITC, and WIC other similar programs create government dependence, but a community is interdependent. We’re not looking at independence or dependence. We’re related to each other and interdependent in the human community. In this budget, the House of Representatives seems to be legislating for some small percentage of abuse. We shouldn’t be legislating for abuse; it’s morally wrong. We should be legislating for dignity.
Amelia: At Bread, we recognize that our long-term deficit situation is of serious concern. Congress must put the country on a fiscally sustainable path. Those in Congress who support the House passed budget argue that these cuts are necessary to address our deficits, while we at Bread have argued for a more balanced approach. What does the Catholic faith have to teach us about these types of decisions?
Sister Margaret Mary: Catholic Social teaching includes the principle of preferential treatment for the poor and vulnerable, and we must adhere to that principle if the good of all is to prevail. We are called to political responsibility as faithful citizens.
What do you think about these decisions, Amelia?
Amelia: Most economists and most in Congress agree about the need to address our long-term deficits and debt and that doing so will require some very tough decisions. However, whether to cut programs for the poor should not be a tough decision. I’m mystified that we’re even having these conversations about whether we should cut SNAP by $133 billion and potentially throw 8 to 10 million people off the program. I’m amazed that when the House Agriculture Committee is asked to find an additional $33 billion in savings, they take every penny of it from SNAP. I’m astounded that the Ways and Means Committee just passed recommendations that would mean one million families could no longer claim the Child Tax Credit, affecting millions of children primarily in low-income immigrant families. And we’re hearing all of these attacks upon poor and vulnerable families struggling to put food on the table at a time when we have 2.8 million children living on less than $2 a day. I often ask myself, how can this be? How can we amplify the level of outrage about the fact that these cuts are even on the table?
Sister Margaret Mary: I agree with you. I would like Congress to take 30 minutes or an hour of quiet and imagine having little or no access to food or health care or transportation, education, housing. If you don’t have access to what you need to live in dignity and if you don’t have access to the funds that enable you to live, it’s frightening. What we’re lacking is imagination to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. How many people have said to members of Congress, this is not right? We have a poverty of imagination. We have to act together in this. We have to act together in faith.
Amelia: Thanks for this conversation, Sister Margaret.
Sister Margaret Mary: My pleasure!
Amelia Kegan is senior policy advisor at Bread for the World, and Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF is Catholic Church relations person at Bread for the World.
Are the food lines at your local food pantry long? They could be getting a lot longer.
The House of Representatives just proposed to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP, formerly the food stamps program. Some representatives argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of the churches.
These representatives are essentially saying that every church across America — big, small, and tiny — needs to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people — every year for the next 10 years — to make up for these cuts. The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. If the proposals by the House of Representatives to cut SNAP by $133.5 billion and $36 billion are enacted, each congregation will have to spend approximately $50,000 to feed those who would see a reduction or loss of benefits.
I am furious!
Join me in telling Congress that this is outrageous. Sign our petition to say feeding hungry people is not the sole responsibility of churches.
Our challenge is to get 1,000 pastors and religious leaders to say "No" to the presumption by Congress that hunger is really the sole responsibility of the churches.
Churches are already responding to unprecedented need. But this burden is more than we can bear, and it's our poorest and most vulnerable people who will be harmed.
Let your members of Congress know that you and your faith community won’t stand for this injustice.
More than 46 million Americans depend on SNAP to help put food on their tables every day. SNAP has prevented our nation’s economic crisis from turning into a hunger crisis. Congress must not turn its back on our nation's commitment to protect vulnerable people from hunger.
Sign the petition now to let Congress know you and your faith community won’t stand for the long lines of hungry people this proposal will create.
What does God want in this world in the midst of all this change? This question wove a common thread in the dozens of dynamic presentations at the Q Ideas Conference, hosted in Washington, DC, over the last few days. Gabe Lyons, author of The Next Christians and founder of the ideas-rich Web platform Q Ideas on the common good, envisioned this gathering of more than 700 primarily non-denominational Christians to enter “a space where church and cultural leaders can learn, dialogue, innovate and collaborate around the important topics shaping the church’s future role in culture.”
Q invited Bread for the World’s President David Beckmann to join a panel discussion on "Food, Famine, & Aid" related to the reality and perceptions about U.S. foreign aid and solutions to end extreme poverty.
The Q crowd was anything but monolithic. Conference organizers shared data on participants: 36 percent were “church leaders”; 34 percent started the organization they work for; 41 percent voted for President Obama in 2008, while 59 percent for Sen. John McCain. While Q Ideas describes itself as apolitical, conference organizers said they wanted to host the fifth annual Q conference in DC this year given the importance of the elections on the horizon. Despite Washington’s super-charged political environment, Q’s approach to engaging the church and its relevance in our culture transcended Washington’s political rhetoric by engaging all sectors of society: church, business, government, arts and entertainment, and science and technology to find new ways to achieve the common good.
What was so refreshing about the fast-paced and plentiful presentations was the affirmation that God has a role in everything we do. Abrahman Kuyper, the Dutch historian, theologian, and philosopher, was often quoted saying, "There is not a square inch of our existence that God does not call 'MINE!'" The myriad presentations at Q proved
A Faith of Our Own author Jonathon Merritt perhaps best described the average Q participant, with his phrase, the “new generation of Christians,” who are independent, speak out on a range of issues, and do so with a civility lacking in our political discourse today. Merritt talked about how these Christians are eager to transcend rigid, tired categories and political/ideological camps in order to seek new paths to partner and achieve work on the common good. The Q conference seems to attract en mass this so-called new generation.
Although the conference had an evangelical, non-denominational distinction and flavor, many participants wouldn’t want to be labeled or categorized “evangelical,” saying that the descriptor “evangelical” is simply too loaded and carries too much baggage in our society. Presentation topics included analyzing power, rediscovering humility, reducing abortion, ending hunger, exercising discipleship, and uncovering common grace in our lives. What mattered more in this gathering was the shared entrepreneurial spirit of these leaders and a common desire to restore the brokenness of our world by relying on Christ-centered principles in whatever sector they find themselves.
Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday, has arrived at last! The love of God — that reconciles and transforms all things, and that is embodied in Jesus Christ — could not be silenced or destroyed. He is risen!
Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
or Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
or Acts 10:34-43
or Mark 16:1-8
We invite you to reflect and respond to the Holy Week prayer and action from our Lenten Prayers for Hungry People resource.
O Christ, by your crucifixion and resurrection, you overcome death and all the powers of evil. Grant us faith to trust your promise of new life so that, living in your steadfast love, we may be extravagant in sharing with all those in need.
The weeks following Easter—before the school year ends and summer activities start—are an ideal time to explore how we can be agents of new life in God's world. The spring recess is also a good time to meet with your representative when she or he returns to the home district. Visit www.bread.org to find suggestions about arranging these face-to-face visits with your Congressional representative.
Bread for the World members headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday June 14, 2011, to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of poor and hungry people. Lobby Day was part of the Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering, when nearly 300 people from around the United States converged on Washington, DC, to learn how to advocate against hunger and poverty. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl.
Holy Saturday was a day of Sabbath rest after the violent, tortuous death Jesus’ endured. For his disciples and followers, all hope was lost. But we know what happens on the next page, and soon they would, too.
or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
1 Peter 4:1-8
or John 19:38-42
[The following prayers for Holy Saturday are from Dr. Scot McKnight and can also be found here.]
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.