Friday, July 29, 2016

Rev. William Barber: Repairing the Breach

I am concerned about those that say so much about what God says so little, while saying so little about God says so much...I'm worried by the way faith is cynically used by some to serve hate, fear, racism and greed.We need to heed the voice of the scriptures, listen to the ancient chorus. The Prophet Isaiah cries out, "What I'm interested in seeing you do, says the Lord, is to pay people what they deserve, share your food with the hungry...Do this, and then your nation shall be called a repairer of the breach."
Rev. William Barber visited Albuquerque exactly a month ago to help faith leaders, community organizers and youth advocates to create a fusion coalition. The New Mexico Interfaith Worker Justice, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and other organizations helped sponsor the event that brought Rev. Barber to Albuquerque.The inspirational leader, who is founder of the Forward Together Moral Movement and president of the the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, is traveling around the country, to help communities come together to advocate for important issues like living wages, fair budgets and other issues that affect working families, minority groups and others left behind by an economic system that favors the wealthy and privileged. He presented his vision at the Democratic National Convention on July 28.  Check out this video.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Prayers Rising

Two ministers with connections to Bread for the World were asked to offer prayers on the Third Day (July 27) of  the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Father Bill Byron, a Jesuit, was one of a handful of clergy members who collaborated with Art Simon to found Bread for the World in 1974.  He gave the invocation. Rev. Gabriel Salguero, who served briefly on Bread's board and spoke at our organization's 40th anniversary celebration, gave the convocation. 



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Legislative Initiatives to Support Refugee Children from Central American Countries

 "Tenemos un problema. Tenemos una crisis. Y si esta nación no despierta, la justicia nos juzgara junto con la historia. We have a problem. We have a crisis.  And if we do not respond, both justice and history will judge us." -Rev. Gabriel Salguero
A couple of days ago, we posted a video in which Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, offered his vision about ending hunger in 2030. At the Bread for the World National Gathering on June 9, 2014, Rev. Salguero gave a passionate reflection on immigration, placing a special emphasis on the situation of the children and youth who are coming across our southern border.

The flight of children and youth from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the US is not difficult to understand: violence and poverty are largely behind the exodus.  "The problem is that when there's vast hunger in a region, the children are the canaries in the coal mine. The most who are disproportionately and immediately impacted are the children," Rev. Salguero said at that time. 

This report from the American Immigration Council tells us about complex circumstances behind the flight of tens of thousands of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran children and youth north of the border.

Humanitarian groups argue that more than half of the children and youth seeking asylum in the U.S. meet the standards that would allow then to qualify for international protection. And yet, the Immigration and Customs agency (ICE) is deporting a large number of these young Central Americans.

"In order to uphold international law and human rights standards, the U.S. must employ careful and lawful screening processes for children seeking asylum. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. Many of these children face trial without representation and a clear understanding of the asylum process," said  the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN).

 There is a legislative proposal in the Senate and House intended to address the issue.  The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016 (S. 2540/ H.R. 4646) would ensure that the children, youth and other vulnerable individuals have access to counsel, legal orientation programs, and post-release services  while they are in immigration court proceedings.

"As people of faith, we are called to strive for justice and peace, and Episcopal policy passed by General Convention calls on Episcopalians to advocate for a just system of asylum for persecuted persons," said the EPPN. "The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would ensure justice for children who have been forced from their homes and are seeking safety and opportunity."

The EPPN urges you to contact your members of Congress today to tell them to support S.2540 and H.R.4646.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rev. Gabriel Salguero: Scripture Calls us to Change the System that Keeps People Hungry

As an Evangelical, ending hunger is a scriptural mandate, it's a moral imperative, it's a spiritual impulse.  Jesus, speaking to us in Matthew 25, said "For I was hungry and you gave me to eat." Even more deeply, when we learn about the Jericho Road and the Good Samaritan, it's really about the systemic structures that contribute to people being hungry and in abject poverty. Scripture, in the New Testament and Old Testament, is filled with this call, this passionate call at its basic level and and its most immediate level.
Bread for the World asked several prominent voices in the Christian community to share their vision of what it means to end hunger. This reflection in Spanish and English comes from Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Association of Latino Evangelicals (NALEO), co-pastor of the multicultural Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene in New York City, and former member of the Bread for the World board of directors.

Here is his reflection in Spanish

 

Here is his reflection in English 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shane Claiborne: Relational Justice at the Center of Ending Hunger

Not only do I believe that we can end hunger and homelessness and poverty.  I know that we can...Mother Teresa is right, it may become fashionable to talk about the hungry, but not as fashionable to talk to them.  And if we really care about the poor, that we know their names, they're part of our family, we're in each other's lives. Sometimes the real challenge is relational justice, that we get involved in the lives of those who hurt. That causes us not just to share food with the hungry but to ask why are there people who are hungry, why so many people have more than they need. 
Bread for the World asked several prominent voices in the Christian community to share their vision of what it means to end hunger. This reflection comes from Shane Claiborne,a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement and one of the founding members of the Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. Claiborne participated in conferences in Albuquerque sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation on several occasions, including in 2009 and 2015.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bishop Richard Pates: Sharing the Bounty of God's Goodness

We deeply believe that we are all one human family - that we share the bounty of God’s goodness or we should share -- and therefore, because the availability of food is there, it’s a question of having the determination to really feed our brothers and sisters, to overcome the suffering that we feel is really not justified because of the fact of the bounty of food and also we want to render to them the dignity they are entitled to as children of God.  -Bishop Richard Pates, Diocese of Des Moines (Iowa)
Bishop Richard Pates, who leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, was one of many people who helped plan an Interfaith Prayer to End Hunger on World Food Day in 2013. Bishop Pates, a fellow member of Bread for the World, has also rubbed elbows with some of the laureates of the World Food Prize, which is awarded in Des Moines every year. Bishop Pates'has been outspoken in his state and nationally about hunger and was instrumental in the launch of the Vote to End Hunger coalition in Iowa in November 2015. This Bread for the World video featuring Bishop Pates is part of a series of faithful voices calling us to work to address food insecurity and its root causes and to pledge to end by hunger by 2030.  Read a transcript of his comments.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An Extraordinary Interfaith Document on Ending Hunger

Recognizing that it is within our collective means to end hunger, the world’s leaders made a firm commitment to do so by agreeing to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  Yet no single individual, agency or nation can achieve this ambitious agenda alone. Doing so requires fully harnessing strategic partnerships, including with religious communities, faith-inspired organizations, governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders.

 The moral imperative of feeding the hungry and caring for the poor lies at the heart of the world’s major religions. We share a common focus on and concern about the 800 million hungry people in the world.  -Ertharin Cousin, executive director, World Food Programme.

On June 13, Pope Francis addressed the executive committee of the World Food Programe (WFP) to offer his full support to the target of Zero Hunger and to give his perspective on the changes needed to end global hunger. The WFP organized two interfaith actions in conjunction with the Pope's address. One was a panel discussion of interfaith leaders, which included David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director emeritus of the Alliance to end Hunger.

“The feasibility of Zero Hunger has moral and spiritual implications,” said Beckmann. “It is no longer ethically sufficient to help people in need. We aren’t acting ethically unless we are helping to end hunger, which means advocating for the systemic changes that are required. God’s grace leads directly to advocacy to end hunger.”

In advance of Pope Francis' address, WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin invited religious leaders and scholars to Rome to offer their thoughts on the goal of Zero Hunger by the year 2030, which is the ultimate target of the Sustainable Development Goals that were announced in September 2015. A total of 24 religious leaders contributed statements to the document. The diversity of the group was impressive and included representatives of the Jewish, Baha'i, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto and other traditions. Many made the statements on behalf of organizations, and not necessarily on behalf of a denominational body.

There was also broad diversity in the statements that came from Christian traditions, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Vatican, the World Evangelical Alliance, the African Instituted Churches, the Episcopal Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the World Council of Churches. Representatives of ecumenical, interfaith and secular humanitarian agencies also contributed statements, including Bread for the World, the Alliance to End Hunger, Religions for International Peace, United Religions Initiative, Cadre des Religieux pour la Santé et le Développement and others also contributed to the richness of the document.

Below  is a small sampling of excerpts from the contributions to the document. (Read the full document)
Hunger is directly linked to power relations. Power imbalances result in gender inequality, unfair trade policies that persistently impoverish poor communities, and structural barriers such as corruption and tax avoidance. We call for the transformation of power relations to ensure that “the least of these” have a seat at the policy-making table. Relations between rich and poor countries should foster, rather than strip poor and hungry communities of their right to dignity. -Rev. Nicta M. Lubaale is the General Secretary, Organization of African Instituted Churches
Just as we care for the members of our immediate family, tending their needs and ensuring their health and safety, so we must tend to the needs of the Earth family, particularly our sisters and brothers who sleep hungry each night, and our children who perish of starvation and malnutrition. -Swami Chidanand Saraswati is President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India, and Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
God has created us in such a way that in our first three or four years our survival depends on the care and love of others. And it is therefore the task of the human being to ensure that the basic needs of the child wherever and wherever born, are being fulfilled. Paramount amongst these needs is food security. We can only realize this universal commandment when we are truly conscious of the fact that humanity constitutes one body. When one part of the body aches the other parts of the body feel it. When pain is not felt throughout the body and remains isolated ,this condition constitutes the beginning of death. -Rabbi Arwaham Soetendorp, President and Founder Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values
Our hearts, along with those of millions of others of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, are filled with compassion for the many of God’s children who suffer from lack of daily sustenance and who therefore cope with the devastating effects of hunger and malnutrition. In our efforts to follow the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ, we feel a keen responsibility to extend help as well as hope to the hungry and to the homeless, both at home and abroad. We invite people everywhere to open their hearts and minds to this growing need and make resources available to the effort of eliminating hunger where they live.  -First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Hunger is a constant companion in Africa’s Sahel region. Hunger of the body walks alongside hunger of the spirit. Sheikh Amadou Bamba, founder of the Mouride confrérie and its spiritual inspiration, left us with this prayer that evokes the essence of Islamic teachings: “Preserve us from degradation, from penuries, from defeats, from misery, from hunger, and thirst. Oh Allah!” But he also demanded action, bringing the land under cultivation and teaching his followers the skills of farming. Making the dream of Zero Hunger a reality in our lifetime echoes the Mouride passion for community, a passion that links the spiritual quest with daily action and concern for the welfare of all. -Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, a Mouride leader and President, Cadre des Religieux pour la Santé et le Développement
The World Evangelical Alliance recognizes that addressing 'zero hunger' is not merely achieved through visualizing the abundance of food. Values of co-operation and opportunity highlight food systems of inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient societies. Compassion is the motivation which acts on our God given responses to hunger with a commitment which looks beyond line ups of food handouts.  Commissioner Christine MacMillan is Director of Public Engagement, The World Evangelical Alliance

Sunday, July 17, 2016

When Many Millions of Things Come Together

Tiffany Window, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing.
 

Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape. -David Whyte

See full reflection in Gratefulness.org (an excerpt from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Couple of Moves in the Direction of Transparency, Integrity and Accountability

Photo: Carlos Navarro
Transparency is a prerequisite for integrity.  And integrity is a necessary tool to ensure accountability. And accountability is a very important aspect in the effort to address hunger and poverty at the global level. These qualities are not necessarily present in legislation that moves through the U.S. Congress or decisions made by other important agencies.

Therefore, we celebrate those occasions when decisions are made to  to ensure full disclosure in our international interactions.  This was the case for a couple of decisions that took place this month.

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a final rule that will implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Here is why this move is important:

The law requires publicly listed oil, gas and mining companies in the US to publicly disclose the payments they make to governments around the world for the extraction of natural resources. That increased transparency will provide critical information to citizens in some of the world’s poorest countries, enabling them to hold their governments accountable for spending that money on things that will improve their lives, like schools and hospitals. The ONE Campaign has more information

The House of Representatives voted final approval of the Foreign Assistance Accountability and Transparency Act. 

According to Bread for the World, this is why this move is significant.
  
The initiative would mandate an evaluation system for all the U.S. government’s international development and humanitarian assistance programs and for some security assistance programs, too. This law will also maintain a recently established website, which gives the public information about U.S. assistance projects. This makes it easier for people in the United States and recipient countries to get involved and help make sure that these projects work effectively. 

Both these moves are a step in the right direction to ensure that our foreign assistance and anti-poverty efforts better serve the needs of the target communities.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Norbertine Community to Host Reflection on Spiritual Response to Climate Change

Holy Earth: Engaging the Spirituality of Climate Change

Saturday, July 23
 9-11:30 AM 

Santa María de la Vid Abbey (5825 Coors Blvd SW, Our Lady of Guadalupe Commons Building)

How is the global climate crisis affecting you and your community spiritually? To what sort of spiritual transformation is God calling us during this uncertain season of change, amidst worsening droughts, fires and floods? In what ways can we seek together to respond, as Pope Francis says, to “the cry of the Earth”?

Join us at the Norbertine Community for this initial interfaith open forum for conversation, mediation, prayer and song as we explore the evolving spirituality of living in a world increasingly impacted by the effects global warming. Climate change affects all of us, so your voice and participation are important!

Facilitated by Sara J. Wolcott, Union Theological Seminary 

Wolcott has been engaged in different areas of the climate change issue for nearly a decade, and has worked in India, Indonesia and England. She is currently completing her Masters in Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she is involved with the Center for Earth Ethics.  Her work with the World Bank in India led her to realize the critical role that religion, arts and music play in adapting to climate change. At present, she is looking at climate-justice issues in different parts of the United States.

Sara is also an artist, singer-songwriter, author and board member of the Quaker Institute for the Future, an organization dedicated to addressing ecological and economic dimensions of climate change. She has written several articles for Sojourners magazine on issues related to climate change and our faith response.

(Photo of Ms. Wolcott via 14th International Environment Forum)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Child Nutrition Reathorization Bill Could Reach Senate Floor This Week

Here are a few updates from the Food Research and Action Center regarding action on domestic nutrition programs  this week. 

On July 6th, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced S. 3136, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill that the Committee had approved in January. Senate Agriculture Committee leaders reportedly still hope to use an expedited process with limited debate to bring a CNR bill to the Senate floor before Congress leaves for the July 15th summer recess. For background and updates on CNR developments, check FRAC’s Legislative Action Center.

A Look Ahead: FRAC is readying resources for advocacy during the congressional recess that begins on July 16th. See FRAC’s Child Nutrition Site Visit Guide (pdf).

CNR Sign On: Take action now to join FRAC and more than 2,500 organizations (pdf) signing onto the statement opposing the three-state school meals block grant provision included in the House CNR bill to prevent the bill (H.R. 5003) from moving to the House floor. The extended deadline is July 15th.

SNAP Needs A Raise: Urge House Members to cosponsor H.R. 5215, which would raise SNAP benefits and protect jobless adults willing to work from arbitrary time limits on SNAP eligibility. Follow these links to information on H.R. 5215 and opposition to block granting and cutting SNAP.

Mother Teresa: Seeking Peace

Image: Via Facebook Page of Ignatian Solidarity Network

Saturday, July 09, 2016

CWS Video: You Help Feed the World

Church World Service helps people eat in Latin America sustainably, by helping communities leverage their own resources. Video published on June 30, 2016

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Rick Steves and a Twitter Chorus of Hallelujahs

Over the summer, the House and Senate approved different but very similar versions of the Global Food Security Act.  Both H.R. 1567 and S. 1252 contain provisions to empower communities to feed themselves. It creates long-lasting solutions to chronic hunger by focusing more on support and skills training to local communities, including women farmers, and improving agricultural productivity. The problem: President Obama could only sign one bill. The solution was for the House to vote on the S.1252.  That vote happened on Wednesday, July 6.  As was the case with H.R. 1567, the Senate version of the Global Food Security Act was approved overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 369 to 53. All three New Mexico congresspersons, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Rep. Steve Pearce, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan cast a Yea vote.  Here is the full Roll Call.

Bread for the World member Rick Steves, a travel writer and television host, celebrated by writing this piece for the Bread blog.  His article is followed by reactions on Twitter by the anti-hunger community. 

Reprinted from Bread Blog

By Rick Steves 

Together, we just made the world a better place!

Both chambers of Congress have now agreed on the Global Food Security Act with strong, bipartisan support!

The bill authorizes U.S.-led, long-term solutions for small farmers so that they'll be able to feed their families and communities for years to come.

When I urged my members of Congress to support the Global Food Security Act, I knew that I wasn't alone. All across this nation, Bread for the World members were speaking with one voice — a clear and caring voice of compassion. That is why I wanted to share this victory with you.

Thank you for your persistent advocacy and for your part in helping to pass legislation that means we share a world where there is less hunger and more prosperity. I'm calling my members of Congress to thank them for passing the Global Food Security Act. I invite you to do the same.

I've traveled enough to know that half of humanity is trying to live on $2 a day. American compassion like this — manifested in smart policy changes — goes a long way toward building a more peaceful and sustainable world. Can we afford to do this kind of good? Right now, we can't afford not to.

Thank you for being a part of something so consequential and so good!

Rick Steves is a travel writer, host of Rick Steves' Europe, and Bread for the World member.








Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Interdependence

Snowflakes, leaves, humans, plants, raindrops, stars, molecules, microscopic entities all come in communities. The singular cannot in reality exist.

-Paula Gunn Allen