Emily Thorn is just ONE Teacher at Menaul School, a small private institution in Albuquerque. The school was once directly affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, but is now an independent entity even though it shares the campus with the Presbytery of Santa Fe. Yet, the school has not forgotten its Christian roots and has kept a tradition from its early days: starting the day with brief prayers and reconnecting with its Christian values. This morning exercise is known as Chapel.
This is where Emily comes in. Inspired by The ONE Campaign, Emily volunteered to prepare ONE worship session for Chapel. She began the session with prayer, asking the students to remain quiet and open to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Using a powerpoint presentation, she then talked briefly about U.N. Millenium Development Goals. This was followed by a viewing of the videotape for Bread for the World's Offering of Letters, One Spirit , One Will, Zero Poverty.
Emily created sample letters to go with her presentation. These letters were to be written in various classrooms and presented as an offering at Chapel the next week. In talking about the letters, Emily urged students to write the message from the heart and in their own words. She also reassured students that each of their letters could make a difference in changing the lives of people across the globe.
Students at Menaul School wrote a few dozen letters to representatives from New Mexico in the U.S. Congress. The simple process of writing the letters helped students get in touch with the issue of global poverty. But it took ONE teacher to get the process started. I suspect this is the case for many of us who move our congregations, classrooms and civic groups to organize letter-writing campaigns. It takes ONE of us to organize the event. And if the impetus comes from a committee, then it's an effort of ONE plus ONE plus ONE.
Emily's efforts follow those of Karina Doyle, who taught a class on social justice as part of the religion curriculum at St. Michael's High School in Santa Fe. In 2005, Karina got students to write more than 100 letters to Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman and Rep. Tom Udall asking them to support the Hunger-Free Communities Act. This initiative followed closely in the spirit of the Millenium Development Goals because it called on the U.S. to cut food insecurity in half in our country by 2010 and and end hunger by 2015. Karina, unfortunately, left St. Michael's for other opportunities after the 2005 school year. Otherwise, I'm sure we would have had an Offering of Letters at St. Michael's in 2006.
As it turns out, Rep. Udall and Sens. Domenici and Bingaman (plus Rep. Heather Wilson of Albuquerque) all cosponsored legislation endorsing the Hunger-Free Communities Act. I'm sure the letters from St. Michael's, along with others from congregations throughout New Mexico helped convince our representatives to support the initiative.
Emily and Karina are an inspiration to me, and I hope they inspire you too.
Photo: Emily (right) and her friend Dena Smith demonstrate finger puppets from Ecuador at The ONE Campaign table set up inside the New Mexico roundhouse (capitol) in February. The finger puppets are available at Peacecraft in Albuquerque.