Wednesday, June 29, 2016

InterAction Honors David Beckmann with Leadership Award

Every year, InterAction presents the Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award to an individual whose career and vision has transcended his or her own organization by raising the influence and profile of the U.S. NGO sector as a whole. This year it was David Beckman, president of Bread for the World Institute and a World Food Prize laureate. David has a legacy of leading large-scale campaigns to strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome hunger and poverty around the world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Asking the Question

And one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?"

And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Church World Service Campaign Seeks to Help Residents of Gran Chaco Region in South America

This  short video from Church World Service, published on May 25, 2016, highlights individuals from the Gran Chaco region of South America, and asks how we can be better neighbors.

Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. The name is of Quechua origin, meaning “Hunting Land.”

In just two decades, area families have lost more than half of their land to non-indigenous settlers. Without land rights, these communities not allowed to farm or work the land for food. And their water sources are inconsistent. Because of this, CWS has launched a campaign to help area residentsregain land rights, attain access to clean water and create stable food sources for families. Learn more about how you can help

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Iftar: Breaking the Fast and Sharing with Family and Community

The Dialogue Institute Southwest (Albuquerque branch) and Turkish Raindrop Foundation is observing Ramadan by inviting local congregations, civic groups and public officials to share in an Iftar (break fast) meal at the end of each day of the month.  The Dialogue Institute is an endorsing partner of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, and we will be breaking bread with the local Turkish community on Tuesday, June 28. More on that later. In the meantime, here is some background in the Iftar meal.

Poster by halattas via Openclipart
Iftar is the meal served at sunset during Ramadan, as Muslims break the daily fast. Muslims traditionally first break the fast with dates and either water or a yogurt drink. After maghrib prayer, they then have a full-course meal, consisting of soup, salad, appetizers and main dishes. In some cultures, the full-course meal is delayed into later in the evening or even early morning. Traditional foods vary by country.

Iftar is very much a social event, involving family and community members. It is common for people to host others for dinner, or gather as a community for a potluck. It is also common for people to invite and share food with those less fortunate. The spiritual reward for charitable giving is considered to be especially significant during Ramadan.  Read more in About Religion

The spirit of Zakat
The participation of the Dialogue Institute in the Interfaith Hunger Coalition is very compatible with the values of Islam, not only during Ramadan, but year round.
Serving others in hardship and distress is an unconditional moral requirement in Islam. The idea of zakat, one of the five pillars of the faith, is based on the direct, legitimate claim of the poor on the wealth of the rich - a claim that is not affected by the shifting tides of politics and ideology... This moral sensibility is at the heart of the Western concept of social democracy, but it was pioneered more than a millennium before in the egalitarian ethic of the first Islamic community.  More from Al Jazeera
Ramadan in Turkey
In Turkey, the month of Ramadan is celebrated with great joy, and iftar dinners play a big part in this. In larger cities like Istanbul all of the restaurants offer special deals and set menus for iftar. Most of the set menus start with a soup or an appetiser platter called iftariye. It consists of dates, olives, cheese, pastırma, sujuk, Ramazan pidesi (a special bread only baked during Ramadan), and various pastries called börek. The main course consists of various Turkish foods, especially the Ottoman Palace Traditional Foods. A dessert called güllaç- is served in most places. Most of the fine-dining restaurants offer live musical performances of Ottoman classical music, Turkish music and Sufi music. Read More in Wikipedia

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Nuns on the Bus to Bring Message of Equal Access, Inclusion to Republican, Democratic National Conventions

The election season is upon us, and you now what that means. The Nuns on the Bus campaign is back in full force, with a tour planned in the Midwest and Northeast. This year campaign focuses on NETWORK's vision for 2020, entitled Mend the Gaps. The  seeks more equal policies on issues like taxes, income, women and families, voting and democracy. health care. immigration. and housing.

"In an election year, it is crucial that this message be heard and heeded because we know that when people at the economic margins do better, we all do better. We will bring the bus to both the Republican and Democratic Conventions where we will educate people on the gaps that we are experiencing in our society and NETWORK’s proactive policy strategy that can bridge those divides," said the Catholic Social Justice Lobby."

"Our goal is to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion," added NETWORK. 

The tour begins on July 11 in Madison, Wisconsin, and then moves to Janesville, Wisconsin (the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan) the next day. The bus will then roll through various sites in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The bus will be in Cleveland for the Republican Party's National Convention (July 17-19) and in Philadelphia for Democratic Party's National Convention (July 26-29). There will be opportunities for residents in each of the communities visited by the bus to interact with Sister Simone Campbell and others who are taking part in the tour.  See full schedule

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pancakes in the (Balloon Fiesta) Park

Photo: United Way of Central Nebraska
"We began with 20 clients and 40 volunteers. Today we serve approximately 500 clients and have over 400 volunteers. We delivered 9,400 meals in 1972. Today we are delivering over 100,000 meals a year."
Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque, a non-profit corporation founded in 1972 by a group of women from local Presbyterian churches, has been delivering nutritious meals and crucial social contact to households in the Duke City area (including Corrales and Rio Rancho) for 44 years.  A regular meal consists of a hot entree, two sides, milk or juice, bread, salad, and either fruit or a dessert.  How do you sign up? Learn more about the application process and check out this video about the organization.

A Bargain Breakfast
You can help Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque raise funds to continue this service for another 44 years and beyond.

On Saturday, July 16, the organization is sponsoring its Pancakes in the Park fundraiser at Balloon Fiesta Park, 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE (map). You can attend the benefit, scheduled for 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., for the bargain price of $5.00 (This includes entry, one plate of pancakes or eggs, one side dish of bacon or fruit, and a drink).  Buy Tickets

The event also features a mimosa bar, a gourmet coffee truck,  live music, vendor booths, and fun activities for adults and children. Test your skills on the huge inflatable obstacle course, or try your hand at blow-up jousting in the Fun Zone!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Two Cents on Hunger in New Mexico

Hunger in New Mexico, the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, Bread for the World and Lobby Day are among the topics I discussed with Jim Gannon, host of the Catholic Charities weekly show "Dignity in the Community" on Channel 32 (KAZQ). This interview was taped on June 15 and aired on June 20. This is a 30-minute show, with my interview accounting for about 15 minutes

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Changing the World 101

Image from
If a college or seminary class is designated the number 101, that means you are beginning your course work with the basics. You might find Biology 101, History 101, Humanities 101 and New Testament 101 in the college or university's course catalog.

How about Changing the World 101: Ending Hunger as a Case Study for Systems Change?  This is a course that the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis will be offering in the Fall Semester of 2016. 

The course follows up on a forum that CTS and Bread for the World sponsored in Indianapolis in April of this year.

Here is a description:
Bringing real change to the world means changing its systems—and Christian Theological Seminary and Bread for the World are joining forces to present this course on changing the systems that impact hunger. The end of hunger is within our grasp! In this course we’ll explore the key skills and best practices involved in making systems change, along with the biblical and theological perspectives through which Christians can best help lead systems change in the twenty-first century.

The course can be taken for  credit or non-credit.

Those attending the non-credit option have only two class days: September 10, and September 17 (both Saturdays).

Those taking the class for credit will attend the September dates, as well as November 5, and November 12.

The facilitators for the class are Bread for the World board members Dr. Matthew Boulton and Dave Miner. Dr. Boulton, president of the CTS, is a professor of theology at the seminary. Miner, a grassroots activist in Indianapolis, served as chair of the Bread board for many years. Students will also hear from other experts who will address such topic as theology, hunger, and systems change.

Class Content
  • God’s provision of abundance for all
  • Root causes, prevalence and impact of hunger
  • Current progress toward ending hunger
  • Local, national, and international systems impacting poverty and hunger Theology of Christian advocacy
  • Models and practical approaches to advocacy
  • Related issues vital to ending hunger: economic opportunity, climate change, immigration, mass incarceration, etc.
Each participant will lead a hunger advocacy project with support from an experienced hunger activist.

Contacts: Mike Hastings 317-496-8028
Dave Miner 317-691-7438

Scholarships are available.

Monday, June 20, 2016

103 in Albuquerque? (Think about Cool Fall Weather and the CROP Walk)

With temperatures reaching the triple digits in many parts of New Mexico, our thoughts turn to the cool temperatures of October.  As long as we're in that "fall" space, might as well put a bookmark on  October 1, October 23, October 30 (all Sundays). That's when CROP Walks have been scheduled in Farmington (Four Corners), Las Vegas, and Albuquerque.  Click on the each of these links for more information, a link to register and a number and/or e-mail address and/or contact person.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thousands of Candles

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. 

  -The Buddha

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Congress, Press Softball Teams Raise Record Funds for Breast Cancer Program

The 8th Annual Congressional Women's Softball Game, held on June 15, raised more than $200,000 in corporate sponsorship, individual donations, and ticket sales to benefit the Young Survival Coalition, a global organization dedicated to critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The CWSG, which features a match between teams comprised of Congressional Representatives and Senators and the Washington press corps, has raised more than $875,000 to date for YSC. According to Roll Call newspaper,  this year's take broke a record.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Congress Roster
In this year's game, the Press Corps won by a score of 8-4, breaking a three-year winning streak by Team Congress. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham was among those playing for Team Congress. Her teammates included a bipartisan mix of legislators: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rep. Mia Love of Utah, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and others. The Press Corps (Bad News Babes) included representatives from CNN, The New York Times, PBS News Hour, NPR, Huffington Post and other media outlets. See the rosters for both teams.

"It's pretty competitive, the members of Congress really want to beat the press," Rep.  Kristi Noem  of South Dakota said in an interview with Gray Television

Both teams take the game personally, as evident in some of the pre-game tweets. Here is a comment from  Jill Agostino of The New York Times. “Hey Members! Almost game time — deadline looms, we’re used to this kind of pressure, are you?” Read more Digital Comments

"It’s really great to be able to keep the game close, give a really good game for the spectators to watch," Wasserman Schultz told Roll Call. "What it means is they’re more likely to talk about it next year and hopefully more people will come out,.”

And the players also have fun, as evidenced by this image of Rep. Lujan Grisham (courtesy of a tweet from Jennifer Bendery).

Friday, June 17, 2016

God in the Face of a Stranger

We encounter God in the face of a stranger. That, I believe, is the Hebrew Bible’s single greatest and most counterintuitive contribution to ethics. God creates difference; therefore it is in one-who-is-different that we meet god. Abraham encounters God when he invites three strangers into his tent.

- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Prayer of the day 
(from Sojourners daily Verse and Voice)

Holy God, in our failure to love and protect our neighbors, we fail you. In response to that failure, you chose to come to us and suffer alongside all who mourn, all who weep, and to offer us a path out of oppression and hatred and hopelessness. We pray that we might take it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Catholic Charities Interview Show Features Discussions on Hunger

Jim Gannon chats with Manuel Casias and Rev. Jack Bunting
Tune into Channel 32 KAZQ on the next two Monday evenings for Dignity in the Community, an interview program sponsored by Catholic Charities.  The show airs at 8:00 p.m.

On June 20, Carlos Navarro will discuss the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and Bread for the World with host Jim Gannon. On June 27, Rev. Jack Bunting and Manuel Casias will offer a tribute to Genevieve Ryskiewicz, a Felician Sister who founded St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho. Sister Genevieve passed away earlier this month. The Felician Sisters were strong supporters of Bread for the World.

Both shows were taped on Wednesday, June 15.The videos will be uploaded on this blog.

Pope Francis Urges Global Community to 'Denaturalize Poverty'

Let us be clear. Food shortage is not something natural, it is not a given, something obvious or self-evident. The fact that today, well into the twenty-first century, so many people suffer from this scourge is due to a selfish and wrong distribution of resources, to the "merchandizing” of food. The earth, abused and exploited, continues in many parts of the world to yield its fruits, offering us the best of itself. The faces of the starving remind us that we have foiled its purposes. We have turned a gift with a universal destination into a privilege enjoyed by a select few. We have made the fruits of the earth – a gift to humanity – commodities for a few, thus engendering exclusion. -Pope Francis
On June 13, Pope Francis addressed a meeting of the executive board of the World Food Program in Rome. The WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. The pontiff thanked the organization for its efforts and commitments "in service of a cause that challenges us all: combatting the hunger from which so many of our brothers and sisters are suffering."
Pope Francis acknowledged that social media has made the globe more aware about hunger and poverty. And yet, he said, the problem prevails. "Today we cannot be satisfied simply with being aware of the problems faced by many of our brothers and sisters. It is not enough to offer broad reflections or engage in endless discussion, constantly repeating things everyone knows. We need to "de-naturalize” extreme poverty, to stop seeing it as a statistic rather than a reality. Why? Because poverty has a face! It has the face of a child; it has the face of a family; it has the face of people, young and old. It has the face of widespread unemployment and lack of opportunity. It has the face of forced migrations, and of empty or destroyed homes. We cannot "naturalize” the fact that so many people are starving."

Ironically, his appearance in Rome was mentioned widely on social media.  Here is a tweet from a group in the Philippines.

The pope encouraged the WFP to continue its efforts to achieve the goal of Zero Hunger. "I desire that the fight to eradicate the hunger and thirst of our brothers and sisters, and with our brothers and sisters, will continue to challenge us to seek creative solutions of change and transformation. May Almighty God sustain with his blessing the work of your hands," said the pontiff.

Read the complete speech

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rev. Kay Huggins: Humbly Walk with God

Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord:
your children shall come back to their own country. Jeremiah 31:15-17

From horror, bloodshed, anger, and dismay our voices rise up: this is too much, this is beyond understanding, this pain goes too deep. Help!

We pause in small circles, around meal tables, and in silent sanctuaries; we pray for the victims, for the wounded, for the grieving, for the fearful, for the frightened, for all the brokenhearted. Help!

The news will not stop; each hour increases sadness and sparks rage. We listen; then, turn away. We face ourselves. Old truths tug at our heartstrings. Resolve builds: What must we do?

What we have always done: love mercy, do justice, humbly walk with God.

God of all, bless our lamentations and our steps forward. May we weep with those who weep, guard the vulnerable, and make a smooth path for peace. Help! for this moment is tender, fragile...and without your aid we surely will stumble.

Hear our lamentation. Help! Amen.

Kay E. Huggins 
Interim Executive Director 
New Mexico Conference of Churches