16 posts categorized "National Gathering"
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.
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.
Over 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.
And 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.
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.
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?
- 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?
- Sen. @RonWyden: Pls protect funding for #SNAP and #foodaid in the #farmbill. #breadrising
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.
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.
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. (We are accepting pre-orders for a DVD of the performance, available early 2014. Contact email@example.com for details.)
By Robin StephensonHe 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.
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.
Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.
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.
In 1986, Rev. Joel Underwood, then a Bread for the World staffer, decided to take a sabbatical, but wondered how he would fill those months. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and [Bread for the World founder] Art Simon said, ‘Do what you’ve always wanted to do, but never could,’” Underwood recalls. “I said ‘I want to do a musical.’ He said I should write one on hunger and poverty, and I said ‘Well, gee whiz, why not?’”
Underwood says what immediately popped into his mind was the parable about the rich man and the poor man in Luke 16:19-31.
“When I went home that evening, I went through that passage with the idea to see how many song titles I could create out of that story,” he recalls. He came up with 21 titles, 19 of which would be used for his musical, Lazarus. “It all fell right into place.”
Lazarus was designed to lift up the problem of hunger, and also be fun to perform, Underwood says. The plan worked: after its 1986 premiere at Catholic University’s Hartke Theatre, the piece (written by Underwood, with music arranged by Louise F. Carlson and Sam V. Nickels) would go on to be performed thousands of times across the globe: in the United States, El Salvador, Australia, India, Egypt, and other countries.
At Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Lazarus will be performed yet again, this time as a completely reworked, updated version of the original. The new Lazarus debuts Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.
“When Joel left, [Lazarus] went by the wayside, but I still saw potential in it,” says Bishop Don diXon Williams, Bread’s associate of African-American church relationships. “If we are talking about being grounded in God’s love and having different resources and ways to get people to become involved in hunger issues and advocacy, to me nothing reaches out more than the arts, than music.”
"One has risen from the dead, and rich Christians confess this at their table, and yet poor Lazarus, in millions, continues to hunger and to perish from hunger at their door. The point of this parable is not, as is often suspected, the consoling pipe-dream of heaven for poor Lazarus. It is addressed exclusively to the rich man. It is not meant to console the poor with the hope of recompense beyond the grave, but to warn the rich of damnation and to incite them to hear and act in the world." —Helmut Gollwitzer, from The Rich Christians and Poor Lazarus
I have been involved in Bread for the World for more than 30 years, and some of my best memories include attending a handful of performances of Lazarus, a musical written by Joel Underwood. Joel served in many capacities at Bread (including as director of church relations), but his musical based on Luke 16: 19-31 is part of the strong legacy he is leaving for our grassroots anti-hunger movement.
My experiences of Lazarus include two very different but powerful interpretations of the musical. I had the privilege of watching a gospel version of the play performed by a very talented cast at Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, Kan. Marie Frasure, who was part of the leadership team for Bread in the Kansas City area during the '80s and '90s and a member of Mount Carmel, was the one who convinced the church's musical director Paul Sims to take on this endeavor.The other adaptation of Lazarus that I attended was in the Albuquerque area, at Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church. This was a much smaller, but equally compelling, version. Rev. Kay Huggins, a Bread member and pastor of the church at the time, was the one who brought the play to our community. There have been many other versions of Lazarus performed around the country over the years, including a one-person show by Harriet Harlow Larsen (with accompaniment by Lou Ann Rice).
On June 8, a revival of Lazarus will premiere at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. This revival version will kick off Bread for the World's National Gathering this year. This revival version keeps the lyrics of the songs intact, but noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings added a contemporary touch to the arrangements.
There is good news and bad news regarding the Washington, D.C. performance. The good news is that the show is sold out: While many of those in attendance are Bread for the World members participating in the National Gathering, there are many others from the Washington-Baltimore metro area who will experience this story in words and music. And the bad news is: the show is sold out. But hopefully there will be additional opportunities to see the new Lazarus.
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.