Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Website for New Mexico Hunger Task Force

Rozie Kennedy, coordinator of the New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger, has been working diligently the past few weeks to create a website for the organization. Well, Rozie's work is finally done. (Congratulations!)

Click here
to gain access to the website. Please spread the word. (The URL is:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Congratulations Partners!

As a grassroots leader for Bread for the World, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to network with wonderful congregations and organizations. I want to take this opportunity to recognize two churches and one sacred dance group that celebrate milestones in October and November.

Daniel Erdman
interacts with sacred clowns at our Bread for the World "A Healing Spirit" worship service in September 2003

Congratulations and Muchas Felicidades to Iglesia Congregacional Unida, which was celebrating its 80th anniversary on November 11-12 with a series of events, including a music workshop by Dr. Irving Cotto on the music emerging from communities of faith in Latin America and Spain. Dr. Cotto is involved with Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans (MARCHA). People who attended the workshop had the opportunity to sing in a combined choir during a special service on Sunday afternoon.

The congregation also celebrated the 25th anniversary of
Pastor Daniel Erdman's ordination. Daniel, a long-time Bread for the World member, was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA but the congregation he leads is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

Iglesia Congregacional Unida has twice hosted our ecumenical worship services and has participated in the BFW Offering of Letters the past two years.

Members of the Iglesia Congregacional unida choir sang in our ecumenical worship service
"A Cry of Jubilee" in September 1999.

We also offer our heart-felt congratulations to Immanuel Presbyterian Church in the Nob Hill community of Albuquerque. The church planned a grand celebration for its Golden Anniversary on Nov. 18-19 with an organ concert, a special service, a Thanksgiving dinner and cornerstone ceremony (review contents of original cornerstone and place 2006 time capsule in cornerstone niche.

The church is special to Bread for the World members in Albuquerque because this is where we held our service to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bread for the World.

Rev. William Byron, S.J., one of the founders of Bread for the World, was the keynote speaker at our 30th anniversary celebration "Keep the Promise on Hunger and Health" in Albuquerque during September 2004

We also used the steps of Immanuel Presbyterian Church as a stage to commemorate The ONE Campaign's White Band Day in September 2005.

Finally, we want to congratulate Keri Sutter and the sacred dance company Surgite, which moved into a new space on October 29. The group's new home is at 4300 Silver SE, Suite H, in Albuquerque. Surgite, which was founded in 1985, blessed its new space with song, dance, poems and prayers. The group, which is comprised of several young ladies who perform with Keri, brings the gift of sacred dance to congregations, nursing homes and other settings. Surgite helped us plan a couple of our Bread for the World ecumenical worship services. Photo: Keri Sutter dances during our "Open Hearts, Open Minds" service in September 2002.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

That's A Lot of Letters (1,140)!

To the Honorable (Sen.) Pete Domenici, (Sen.) Jeff Bingaman, (Rep.) Heather Wilson, (Rep.) Steve Pearce, (Rep.) Tom Udall:

We write you with a simple message: Poverty focused development assistance helps poor people around the world to overcome hunger, poverty and disease.
Currently we give less than half of one percent of our federal budget to poverty-focused development assistance. I urge you to increase that amount by $5 billion for 2007. This will help move us toward the international commitments our country's leaders have made. We have a monumental opportunity to cut global poverty in half. Let's take it.

Bread for the World members in New Mexico

We must have sent this message more than one thousand times!
Well, actually it was more like 1,140 times! That's how many letters we generated to our members of Congress from New Mexico as part of this year's Offering of Letters,
One Will, One Spirit, Zero Poverty.

A heart-felt THANK YOU to the 16 churches and one school that took time and effort to organize a letter-writing event in New Mexico this year. Click here for full list and breakdown of letters by legislator.

We also had letter-writing events during The CROP Walk, World Food Day and the annual meeting of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-Rocky Mountain Synod, which was held in Albuquerque this year. ELCA members generated 739 letters to senators from five states! (The letters to Sens. Bingaman and Domenici were counted with our New Mexico total).

Three Cheers! for St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe; and Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Church of the Good Shepherd, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church and Menaul School in Albuquerque, which had a Bread for the World Offering of Letters for the first time ever.

Most churches scheduled their letter-writing event after the Sunday service or the Saturday and Sunday Mass. Organizers found creative ways to introduce the topic to their constituents....Ann Doyle, Bob and Janet Frank and Virginia Pitts at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Albuquerque scheduled the letter-writing event as part of their social justice committee's Awareness Week in September...The program included a talk by Ann Githinji of Kenya and Maniki Sinandele from South Africa about the Millienium Development Goals ...Emily Thorn at Menaul School in Albuquerque used one of the morning chapel sessions to show a powerpoint presentation to students and faculty...Laverne Kaufman at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces invited Kari Bachman, a nutrition expert at New Mexico State University and a long-time BFW member, to speak to the congregation on letter-writing Sunday...

Beth Kissling at Church of the Good Shephard in Albuquerque set up a "dialogue sermon" between Pastor Sue Gallagher and BFW New Mexico state coordinator Carlos Navarro to talk about the offering of letters...Lydia Pendley at St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe generated interest about the offering of letters at her church by inviting ONE Campaign volunteer Peter Vance and Carlos Navarro to speak to a social justice issues forum in February...Mary McClean at La Mesa Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque made sure that One Will, One Spirit, Zero Poverty was the topic for the Minute for Mission on letter-writing Sunday...

Thanks to the efforts of Bob Riley at First Unitarian Church, members of that congregation sent 163 letters to Congress...Letter writers at St. Paul Lutheran Church had their message delivered directly to congressional offices in Washington by Charles Lakeman, who attended Bread for the World's Lobby Day this year...Chris Malano at Aquinas Newman Center Catholic Community in Albuquerque talked visiting members of Catholic campus ministry organizations around New Mexico into participating in the parish's Offering of Letters.

Finally, Donna Detweiler tells us about how one young advocate participated in the Offering of Letters at Albuquerque Mennonite Church in June
: "We had fun writing letters around the kitchen table... When 7-year old Mary heard her mom's explanation of what we were doing, she said she thought the federal budget should include money for trains. So she drew a train, signed it with her address and tucked it into the envelope with her mom's letter to Mr. Domenici, whose granddaughter they know..."

I have included pictures of some of this year's Offerings of Letters below and in the next blog post.

Thank you to all who contributed these pictures! (Harlan Halvorson at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces took the photo at the very top).

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (Albuquerque) Sept. 21
Had their
Offering of Letters during as part of Awareness Week
Photo: Carlos Navarro

Aquinas Newman Center (Albuquerque) April 29-30
Phil Keller, Dena Smith and Emily Thorn
write letters to Rep. Heather Wilson, Sen. Pete
Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman after the Sunday
evening Mass.
Photo: Chris Malano

More Images from 2006 Offering of Letters

Top-Peace Lutheran Church
(Las Cruces) April 30 & May 7
Bread for the World member Kari Bachman
a nutrition specialist at New Mexico State University,
was a guest speaker on letter-writing Sunday.
Kari poses with Laverne Kaufman.
Photo: Harlan Halvorson

Bottom-St. John's United Methodist Church (Santa Fe) May 7
Gretchen and Bruce Garnand chat with Sandy Szabat
Photo: Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt

Top: All Saints Lutheran Church (Albuquerque) May 14
Janice Larson made her views known to Congress.
Photo: Lucrecia Tippit

Bottom: CROP WALK (Albuquerque) October 15
Ann Sensenig, a member of Albuquerque Mennonite Church,
writes to Sen. Pete Domenici after
completing a 4-mile walk for the hungry.
Photo: Carlos Navarro

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Spirituality of Fasting

"The biggest problem facing the world today is not people dying in the streets of Calcutta, and not inflation, but spiritual deprivation. . .this feeling of emptiness associated with feeling separate from God, and from all our sisters and brothers on planet Earth."
--Mother Teresa, 1979 Nobel Peace laureate

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has a wonderful program in place to help people at parishes around the country get in touch with the concept of hunger. Under the program, called
Food Fast, participants do not eat for a 24-hour period. The program is designed for youth, but adults could and should participate in this experience too.

One of the goals of this activity is to show solidarity with the 84 million people around the world who are hungry. According to the latest statistics from the U.N.'s
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) , the number of hungry at the global level increases by 4 million every year. (We're going in reverse, if we are to meet Goal 1 of The Millenium Development Goals, which is to Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty. The target of cutting hunger in half by 2015 is in jeopardy)

Those of us who live in the western industrialized nations cannot even begin to imagine hunger. (That's not to say that we don't have hungry and poor in our midst, but the magnitude is greater in the poor nations). That's why the CRS Food Fast is so important. It begins to put the youth (and adults) in touch with an iota of what it means to be hungry. The difference is that we know there will be food at the end of the 24-hour period. There is no such certainty for millions around the world.

But we must not look at the Food Fast as a simple act of solidarity. This should be a spiritual action. Pedro Melendez Jr. emphasizes this point in an article entitled
When You Fast . "When one is more acutely in tune with God through fasting, God then answers in his compassionate and generous ways," says Melendez. Many authors make reference to passages in Isaiah 58, especially verses 5 though 12, as the example of the spiritual connection between fasting and caring for the poor.

Many communities of faith, food banks and other organizations place a lot of attention on the problems of hunger during the month of November. CRS is making a special push for parishes to do a Food Fast during the month.

In Albuquerque, Jude Fournier, director of religious education at
Aquinas Newman Center has planned a Food Fast for Nov. 17-18. Even though the event was put together for the parish, everyone in the community is invited to join in.

Here is the schedule.
November 4-5: Sign up as a fasting participant
November 17-18: Actual Fast begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday. (You are encouraged to eat a meal before 5:00 p.m.). The only meals you will miss are breakfast and lunch on Saturday, but you may have water and juice as needed.
November 17 (8:00 p.m.): Night Prayer for all those who are fasting. Dominican Chapel (in the back of the courtyard at Newman Center).
November 18: (9:30 A.M.-12:30 P.M.) All fasters are welcome back to Newman Center to take part in a community service project/food drive.

November 18: (4:30 p.m.) Newman Center Mass.