Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

18 posts categorized "National Gathering"

Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering: Join Us!

Bread for the World members at evening worship at the 2011 National Gathering. (Jim Stipe)
By Rev. David Beckmann
Please join us in Washington, D.C., June 9-10 for Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering and to celebrate 40 years of working together to end hunger. We have a special $40 anniversary rate to say "thank you" and to encourage you to come.
Our Gathering will take place at Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center and will include exciting speakers, new learnings, and inspiring worship. The official celebration of our 40th anniversary will be a dinner on Monday, June 9. The Gathering will conclude with Lobby Day visits to our members of Congress on Tuesday, June 10. Register for one or all of the events at www.bread.org/40.
When: June 9 to 10, 2014
Where: Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, 3800 Reservoir Road NW,                 Washington, DC 20007
Hotel reservations may be made by calling 888-902-1606 or booking online. A special rate of $169 per night is available for reservations made by May 6.
Theme: Bread Rising: Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
Tentative Schedule
Monday, June 9

Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
8:30 a.m.  Registration and Continental Breakfast
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Worshiping, Listening, and Learning Together

40th Anniversary Dinner
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Reception and Dinner

Tuesday, June 10

Lobby Day
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Briefing session followed by pre-arranged visits to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. The day concludes with a reception and worship.

Early-bird registration, before May 6, is only $40 per person (lodging not included).
I look forward to seeing you in June!
Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

In the Beginning: Art Simon on the Origins of Bread for the World

Member-profile-artBy Rev. Arthur Simon

As Bread for the World begins its 40th anniversary year, a host of treasured memories come flooding to my mind. Let me share a few of them with you:

The church and the people in the poverty-stricken neighborhood in New York City that became the birthplace of Bread for the World [Trinity Lutheran Church on the Lower East Side].

Our awareness in those early days that providing emergency assistance, though essential, did not get at the underlying causes of hunger and poverty.

The discovery that almost nothing was being done to challenge Christians as citizens to use their influence on members of Congress for national action against hunger.

The group of faithful Christians (seven Catholics and seven Protestants) who served as an informal "think tank" to explore the idea of a "citizens lobby" against hunger.

All of these things led us to our vision of a faith-based, politically nonpartisan movement that might mobilize people in every state and congressional district to serve as an outcry for action by Congress on specific measures to reduce hunger here and abroad. From the start, we made the decision to anchor our work in the Gospel of God’s providential care and saving love in Jesus. And we decided to help people link their faith in Christ with our stewardship as citizens in order to obtain justice for hungry people.

It seemed a simple and obvious way of following Jesus. But it also seemed a gamble. Would it work? Some told me it would not work, that Christians are wedded to direct aid only. They said a response that moves into the political arena would press a button too hot to touch. Stick to Band-Aids, they advised.

We prayed for wisdom and invited God's blessing, then decided to launch Bread for the World nationally. We were full of hope but also prepared for possible failure. To our astonishment, an initial mailing brought in several thousand members, and Bread for the World was off and running.

Our first major initiative, a Right to Food Resolution, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Republican Mark Hatfield (Ore.) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Don Fraser (Minn.). At first, no one paid any attention. Then folks like you began to write, and churches across the country joined the campaign. Members of Congress began hearing from their own voters—first a few letters, then dozens, then hundreds. The Right to Food became a lively issue that attracted the support of religious leaders and the press. And after vigorous debate, Congress passed it.

The campaign for the Right to Food brought us thousands of new members and showed that a relatively small number of citizens could wield influence way out of proportion to our numbers — and get Congress to take action against hunger.

Forty years later, Bread for the World members are still at it. Thanks to you, our efforts to end hunger have been blessed beyond measure. And again thanks to you, Bread for the World’s future looks even more promising.

Rev. Arthur Simon is the founder and president emeritus of Bread for the World.

Celebrate Bread's anniversary with us!Plan to join us June 9 to 10 in Washington, D.C., to celebrate our 40 years of working together to end hunger. There will be a 40th anniversary dinner on Monday evening, June 9, and our annual Lobby Day on June 10. More details will be provided at www.bread.org/40 as they become available.

Photo: Matt Newell-Ching

A Preacher’s Type of Gathering

Rev. Dr. James Forbes speaking at Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, June 9 (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

By Minju Zukowski

When I look back on my experience as a volunteer for Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering, I am invigorated. I feel optimistic and hopeful that we, as a society, are moving toward ending hunger.

Hearing the different preachers at the Gathering speak with power and conviction about ending hunger was truly an inspirational experience. Listening to the wisdom of these individuals helped broaden my perspective of what I can do in this fight.

Rev. Dr. James Forbes taught me that when I say grace before eating, I should not only let God know that I am thankful for the food, but also express concern for those individuals who are hungry. Taking the time to think about those who do not have enough to eat as I am about to receive food is a powerful motivator. It reminds me to keep those who are less fortunate in my heart, and also instills in me a sense of urgency. That urgency compels me to go the extra mile in the fight to end hunger.

The one thing Rev. John McCullough said that really struck me was that “the government is not our enemy, our silence is.” It is easy to place blame on our government for all of our country's problems, but if we don’t use our voices to stand up for what we believe in, we’re just as much at fault. 

I was also moved by the powerful speech given by Rev. Luis Cortes Jr. during the Gathering. Rev. Cortes talked about the importance of using the word hunger, and the power that it holds. While terms such as "food insecurity," are important in our work, we must always remember that those words connect to hunger, which is a very real, painful feeling for millions of people around the world.

I challenge everyone to join me in acting on these lessons. Give thanks to God for what you have, and also remember to acknowledge those who are hungry every time you eat. Get the word out about hunger by bringing up this issue with your pastors, co-workers, friends, and family members. If anything is ever going to change, more people need to be informed. 

And, finally, raise your voice to your lawmakers—they are the people who, with the stroke of a pen, can determine the fate of hungry people in this country and around the world. Don’t ever let your voice be silent and keep hunger on your mind, in your thoughts, and in your prayers.

Minju Zukowski, a senior marketing major at Towson University in Maryland, is Bread for the World’s media relations intern.

John Lewis: "Never give up until everyone has food."

RepjohnlewisBy David Beckmann

In the closing minutes of Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Rep. John Lewis entered a caucus room packed with hundreds of exhausted Bread members who had spent the day walking the halls of Congress, meeting with their lawmakers on behalf of hungry and poor people. The civil rights leader brought them to their feet with a rallying cry:

“Continue the fight. Continue the struggle. Never give up until everyone has food.”

Thanks to you and thousands of other faithful advocates, we are making progress against hunger. This was clear at our National Gathering, held in Washington, D.C., June 8-11. More than 1,000 anti-hunger advocates joined us in prayer, training, education, and advocacy.

On Lobby Day, Tuesday, June 11, Bread members engaged legislators or their staff in 199 meetings, telling our stories and those of people in need, urging our leaders to consider the most vulnerable when they cast their votes—and reminding them that we are holding them accountable. Three-quarters of the Senate was visited by Bread members during Lobby Day.

Quietly, steadily, we are building a critical mass in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, especially as it affects the youngest and most vulnerable.

On Monday, June 10, participants from more than 20 countries joined us for a special day-long international meeting, “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition,” which was convened by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide.

Leaders from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society joined Bread members to take stock of the movement to improve nutrition for mothers and children during the critical 1,000 days that lead to a child’s second birthday.

SUNmovementOver the past three years, 40 countries with high malnutrition rates joined the movement to Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) and have highlighted nutrition in their development agendas, while donor governments and nongovernmental organizations are investing in new and innovative ways to prevent and treat malnutrition and undernutrition. Immediately prior to the June 10 meeting, world leaders committed $4.15 billion to scale up direct nutrition interventions and an additional $19 billion for nutrition-sensitive programs in agriculture and other sectors.

Our 2013 National Gathering revealed the power and the glory of God working through us to end hunger. I am filled with gratitude for your commitment to this important work. I thank all of you who attended the Gathering or sent prayers as we took our message to Capitol Hill.

NewsletterlazarusAnd I thank everyone who worked behind the scenes or took center stage to bring us together for a remarkable long weekend. We enjoyed a sold-out production of Lazarus: The Musical, which was created by Joel Underwood, with new music by Bill Cummings.

We shared a special screening of the documentary A Place at the Table, followed by a meaningful discussion with the people who shared their lives onscreen and in the companion book, Barbie Izquierdo, Bob and Michaelene Wilson, and Sharon Thornberry—as well as director Kristi Jacobson.

Our workshops and plenaries were led by renowned experts from across many fields. And Bread volunteers, interns, and staff kept it all humming.

I have so much more to share from the Gathering: stories, photos, and details about the progress that we are making to end hunger. You will be receiving a follow-up newsletter in a couple of weeks with important information about where we go from here to end hunger.

In his keynote address, Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development renewed the commitment of the U.S. government and applauded the advocacy campaigns of Bread for the World:

“Together, you form one of the greatest movements alive today—the fight to make hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty permanently a thing of our past.”

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

VIDEO: Highlights from Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition

USAID Administrator Raj Shah at the Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition event (Joe Molieri/Bread for the World).

On Monday,  international government representatives, global nutrition experts, activists, and civil society leaders assessed progress made since September 2010—nearly 1,000 days ago—when the United States and Ireland launched the 1,000 Days Call to Action and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

At the "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition" meeting, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s financial commitment to addressing maternal and child malnutrition and committed to building a partnership with U.S. nongovernmental organizations to leverage private resources in this fight.

“Today, we have the opportunity to join our voices together-to draw strength from the past 1,000 days and seize the next 1,000 days to achieve progress that was unimaginable in the past,” Dr. Shah said. “The vision that guides our mission starts with the people our governments represent and who are reflected in our invaluable civil society partners who have long championed efforts to advance global nutrition.”

During the meeting, Interaction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based NGOs international , announced that its members have pledged more than $750 million in private funds over the next five years to improve nutrition—including efforts that focus on the 1,000-day window between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday.

For more highlights from the meeting, watch the brief video below.


Social Media and Bread for the World’s Lobby Day


Today, June 11, is Lobby Day! If you're not joining us in person, you can still participate virtually. Making calls is a great way to support the advocates from your state who will be in Washington, D.C., today, as is using social media. 

Share the social media updates from Lobby Day participants, and send your own messages to your members of Congress, too. Your virtual participation helps spread the message that everyone deserves a place at the table.

Are you on Facebook?

1. Search for your member of Congress and “like” their page (this allows you to tag them).
2. Write a status update that tags your member(s) of Congress and includes the two key messages of Lobby Day: 1) Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill, and 2) Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes both revenues and sensible cuts.
  • Example: “Sen.@RonWyden, my fellow Oregonians are visiting you this afternoon during @Bread for the World Lobby Day. They will ask you to please protect programs for hungry and poor people--and I am asking you, too!

Are you on Twitter?

All but a couple of our members of Congress are on Twitter--it's a great way to connect with your senators and representative. Tweets are short and sweet--tag your member of Congress,  include one of the key messages. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BreadRising! We will retweet you from @bread4theworld, so that both members of Congress and the advocates on Capitol Hill will be able to see your support.
  • Sen. @RonWyden: Pls protect funding for #SNAP and #foodaid in the #farmbill. #breadrising

If you have questions or need additional help,message Sarah Godfrey or Robin Stephenson—the members of Bread’s social media team—on Twitter or Facebook.

Join Bread's Annual Lobby Day from Wherever You Are

Bread OH 2 Cinti Wenstrup

Photo: Bread for the World members in Ohio recently had an in-district meeting with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH02). (l-r) Ceal Bellman, Laura Hovland, Nick Yoda, Rep. Wenstrup, Mary-Cabrini Durkin, Sydney Prochazka, and Cindy Browne.

Tomorrow, June 11, is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Each year, Bread for the World’s National Gathering culminates in a day dedicated to putting our faith into action by taking a message to Congress. You can join the chorus of voices urging our lawmakers to create policies that ensure everyone has a place at the table,

Your voice could not be more important right now, and just because you aren’t in Washington D.C., doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Sequestration is chipping away at critical and effective anti-hunger initiatives. There are efforts to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.

Lobby Day participants will meet with members of Congress or their legislative staff in D.C. Imagine if they walk into a congressional office that has already received hundreds of calls preparing the member of Congress for the message they will deliver. When a Bread member says, “I am just one of the many Christians from your state/district who believes that the choices we make today will make a difference for poor and hungry people tomorrow,” your call will add impact to that statement.

Last week, Ohioans held an in-district meeting in Cincinnati (see photo), which will amplify Tuesday's Lobby Day visit for participants from that state. You can similarly add your voice and support with a simple phone call that will only take a few minutes of your time. 

Call or email your senators and representative today.  Use our special toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and make sure to let them know you are a Bread for the World member.  Leave a message with the receptionist and ask your member of Congress to:

1.  Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill.

2.  Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has both revenues and sensible cuts.

Get the same resources that in-person participants will be using on our Lobby Day web page.  You can include additional facts from our Lobby Day talking points or share your personal story.

Even one voice has the power, but many voices in unison calling for a world where all God’s children have enough is a testament to the power of God’s love and grace--and just might move Congress, too.

First Look: 'Lazarus: The Musical'

The first day of Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering closed with an amazing treat: the debut of a new interpretation of Lazarus!

Lazarus is an original Bread for the World musical about hunger and poverty, created by Rev. Joel Underwood in the 1980s. Last night, a new version, with music and arangements by noted musical director Bill Cummings, debuted. The words and the story, however, were unchanged: the musical was based on the parable, found in Luke 16:19-31, featuring the story of a rich man (Dives) and a beggar (Lazarus) and their relationship in life and in the afterlife.

We'll be uploading a few video and music clips in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few photos from last night's performance to tide you over.

Ending Hunger is an Audacious Call

Photo: Rev. Dr. James Forbes at the June 8 homiletic workshop. (Sarah Godfrey)

By Robin Stephenson

He is called the "preacher’s preacher" and today’s homiletics workshop during Bread for the World’s National Gathering made that clear: Rev. Dr. James Forbes, speaking to a roomful of preachers and participants, said preaching must engage people in scripture and show a truth that will impact and transform behavior. He also had a message for Bread members responding to hunger.
“If my sermon is right, people will leave with a fresh sense of urgency to do what they are called to do," Rev. Forbes said.
He used the example of Luke 8:40-56 and presented the heart of the gospel that “punches a hole in the darkness.” The daughter, who is raised from the dead, shows us that not only does God pay attention to detail, but that food is an essential component of creation. After telling the child to get up, Jesus commands the people to feed the child. “Jesus understands that although the first half of the miracle is re-starting her metabolic process, she is not fully healed," Rev. Forbes said. "She needs food.” 

Food is not a minor detail, Rev. Forbes reminded us, but is essential to the fulfillment of God’s creation–before even creating us, in Genesis, God creates food. “If God in creation provides food,” Rev. Forbes said, "it is an anomalous situation to have a world where some people can’t eat.” Thus, starvation and hunger are a distortion of creation and our call is to heal the world–even when faced with the obstacle of disbelief.

When performing the miracle, Jesus is faced with laughter. The power of healing and wholeness comes through faith. Ending hunger, as Bread for the World members are called to do, must be anchored in our faith.
Belief requires great audacity and it is what Christians responding to hunger in today’s world must rely on–even if the work is spurned. This can be a challenge, for Christians: “If you live in a nation that doesn’t believe everyone needs to eat, there is a great deterrent in that mentality," Rev. Forbes said. "[E]specially if that mentality is present in the Congress of the United States.”
Over the next few days, National Gathering participants will be grappling with that call:  how do we create the political that will allow everyone a place at the table?  And on Tuesday, June 11, participants will take their message to the halls of Congress with the audacity of faith.
Rev. Forbes is preaching and teaching homiletics workshops across the nation this year with Bread for the World.  Ask your organizer if there is an upcoming event in your area and be sure and check our events page for upcoming appearances.

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

Join Us for the National Gathering--On Social Media

BreadrisingFINAL1By Robin Stephenson

The plane tickets have been bought, bags are being packed, and in just two days, Bread members will gather in Washington, D.C. Just like the title of Art Simon’s book says, "Bread will Rise" beginning this Saturday and culminating in Lobby Day (Tuesday, June 11), when our members will take the outcry to end hunger to the offices of our legislators. We hope you will join us as well.

If you can’t physically come to this year’s Gathering, you can still participate virtually. Follow our social networks—this blog, Facebook, and our Twitter feed—and we'll keep you informed of what is happening with recaps, pictures, and more. The social media team and National Gathering participants will be live tweeting the workshops using the hashtag #BreadRising

Workshops will cover such diverse, yet interconnected, topics as immigration, foreign assistance, tax reform, malnutrition, and agriculture. Skills workshops designed to enhance the power of our advocacy will cover everything from how to create public dialogue to telling your story.  And you won’t want to miss inspiring words from keynote speakers like renowned preacher Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Esperanza President Rev. Luis Cortes, and USAID administrator Raj Shah. 

On Tuesday, as we head to Capitol Hill for Lobby Day, you can support Bread members from your home state as they tell our lawmakers that everyone deserves a place at the table. Participants will be tweeting about their meetings and posting pictures on their Facebook pages. We encourage remote participants to call their members of Congress, and use your social networks to amplify the message that polices in the farm bill must protect the most vulnerable and that it is time to put an end to sequestration and agree on a balanced, long-term plan for the nation's fiscal sustainability. 

You can follow each day's events by downloading the National Gathering event program. Pack your virtual bag and join the conversation on social media as we gather in our nation’s capital this weekend. There is more than enough food in the world to feed all people, yet millions still go hungry. Now is the time to gather the political will to follow Jesus' teaching and ensure a place at the table for the least of these. 

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

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