Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Passion to End Hunger and a Little Planning

Our regional organizer Robin Stephenson recently wrote a piece for the Bread blog about writing letters to Congress.  For veteran letter-writers, Robin's words ring very true.  But for folks who have not written a letter before or who have only written a couple of letters, Robin has the following advice:
Conducting an Offering of Letters isn’t rocket science; it just takes a passion to end hunger and a little planning.  If you are a first timer, fear not.
Robin quotes Angela Ruprock-Shafer of Plymouth Indiana and our own Ellen Buelow from Albuquerque in her article. Read Robin's blog post

Letter writing at JustFaith class. 
More than two dozen churches in New Mexico have organized Offerings of Letters over the years. This includes the JustFaith class at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Las Cruces  (See picture above).  We've had letters from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Rio Rancho, Gallup, and Truchas.

Here in Albuquerque,  the social justice group at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church has put together a special plan for its Offering of Letters on March 25.

Parishioners will be asked to write their message to Congress on post cards asking  Rep Martin. Heinrich or Sen. Tom Udall or Sen. Jeff Bingaman  to form a Circle of Protection on programs that protect vulnerable people in our country and overseas.  There will be a specific request related either to foreign assistance or the Earned Income Tax Credit or domestic nutrition programs or protecting foreign aid.  (Check this blog for updates.  Or better yet, please join us at our Offering of Letters workshop on March 18).

"Joanne Angel, social justice committee member, wrote a 3-minute catechesis on specifics for the Circle of Protection covering the first Sunday in March," said Ellen Buelow.  "This will be followed by a bulletin insert and then a Noticias article about Bread for the World over those next two weekends. After the 12:15 Mass we are planning a luncheon with corn tortillas, rice and beans." At the luncheon, the social justice group will use parts of the liturgy we put together for the Circle of Protection prayer vigil on Oct. 22, 2011.

The social justice group is making sure that this is a parish-wide effort.  Participants and graduates from in the Just Faith and Engaging Spirituality classes have been invited as well as parishioners who have participated in  various missions: the Sister Parish program (and visited San Eugenio in Mexico), the ACTs community, SHARE, and small church communities.

Putting together an Offering of Letters is a meaningful experience for local Bread members.  Here's a note from Betsy Diaz from La Mesa Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. 
I have learned much more than the nuts and bolts of setting up a letter writing campaign from the [local] Bread for the World workshops. This year I encouraged members of La Mesa Presbyterian Church to attend to learn about national and international hunger issues and strategies for addressing them, even if they did not want to help with the letter writing. I now write my legislators, congresspeople and the President frequently about issues of concern to me - and to thank them for their actions that offer meaningful opportunities to people for moving out of poverty
And here is more from Ellen Buelow. (If this seems familiar, Robin used some of this in her blog post):
Several years ago I coordinated Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters for our Church. When I studied the message for Bread that year, I wondered how mere words could convey those profound needs to our New Mexico representatives, but a community gathered together to accomplish God’s work is a mighty force.
On Bread Sunday our parishioners wrote with a passion to alleviate hunger and sometimes conveyed their personal experience with hunger. A loving community grew among the letter writers as they found compassion for those living in poverty. Hunger lives in many forms. Beyond physical hunger is a hunger for social advocacy. Underlying this hunger is one for the Living Word— Our Christ of Compassion. Our Offering of Letters brought an awareness of our spiritual hunger as we wrote to our representatives about the hunger around us.
If any other Bread members in New Mexico have any stories to share, please send them to me, and we will gladly post them in a future blog.

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