Saturday, August 04, 2018

'Humanity Can Survive Environmental Disaster, But We Must Act Now'

The Kogi, an aboriginal people of Colombia, believe that they know how humanity can survive. The tribe that lives in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta warned the world, through a film, as early as twenty years ago of people destroying the earth. The film was a BBC documentary called From the Heart of the World that was directed by Alan Ereira and attracted a great deal of attention. The documentary was also shown at the UN conference on the environment in Rio de Janeiro. However, the thoughts of the tribe were soon forgotten. Now Ereira makes the concerns of the Kogi visible again, this time in an illustrative form: by showing the global destruction of the environment in miniature. The Kogi travel on the Columbian coast, showing how human actions have changed the cycle of Nature, led to extinction of animal species and affected our everyday lives.
A visit to Albuquerque
Albuquerque is honored to host the Teyuna mamos and zagas, spiritual leaders of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogii and Wiwi people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. Known as Guardians of the World, they were featured in several documentaries, including Aluna, which can be viewed online (see trailer below).

For eons these indigenous peoples hardly ventured beyond their homeland. But, now they are concerned for the health of the planet and believe it is critical to speak to the industrial world about climate change and water. The group is touring particular water places in the United States to speak, to pray, to offer healing, and to beg us to act.

Here are details of the group's national tour. This includes a handful of events in Albuquerque.
  • Sunday, August 12, Peace and Justice Center, 202 Harvard Dr. NE.  7:00 p,m
  • Monday, August 13 First Congregational Church, 2801 Lomas Blvd NE  6:30 p.m. (Free will donations accepted for the first two events)
  • Tuesday, August 14, Healings at  St. Thomas of Canterbury, 425 University Blvd. NE,  2:00-4:00 p.m.  (Donations of $50--$100 to $1,000. Contact Swami at 505-842-5697)
Here is the trailer to Aluna.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Walking Retreat and Sabbatical on the Camino de Santiago

My own experience showed me that Sabbath keeping could create a certain clarity, calling me to a more robust wholehearted living. It was about tending my soul, even as I tried to do that for everyone else. -from Soul Tending: Journey into the Heart of Sabbath by Rev. Anita Amstutz
Wikimedia Commons
In July 2017, John Bulten, executive director of East Central Ministries, took a six-month sabbatical from the great work that his organization provides to the community in southeast Albuquerque (and the entire metro area). ECM is an asset to the community, providing a thrift store, a low-cost health clinic, an urban farm, a housing co-op. a community food co-op and much more.

"From July through December last year, I was on a six - month sabbatical for a time of rest and renewal, said Bulten. "This time off was an incredible and unique gift! In hindsight, 18 years of inner-city ministry without an extended time away was not healthy for me or the ministry. I am committed to keep learning and growing in health on my life journey, and this time away was exactly what was needed."

The word sabbatical is rooted in sabbath, a day of rest in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The sabbath, however, is more than just a day of rest, but also of renewal and a time to step back and connect with the Creator. "Just as joy is more than the absence of sorrow, the Sabbath is more than cessation of labor. Resting in bed all day does not amount to a keeping of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is to be a delight and joy ( Isaiah 58:13-14 )," said the website Bible Tools.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
For their sabbath, John and his companion Morgan Attema, who is ECM's Growing Aawareness Urban Farm Manager, traveled through several western U.S. states and later made a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. This walking "retreat" has been taken by millions of ordinary people over the ages, and many, many books have been written about the journey.  Two come to mind: Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp and To the Field of Stars by Kevin Codd. The film, The Way (featuring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez), is based on Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain by Jack Hitt. John Bulten has not written a book (at least not yet), but he does offer a glimpse of his experience in the ECM Summer 2018 newsletter.  Here is in an excerpt.

We stayed in small towns and slept in bunk beds in hostels for pilgrims along the route. We walked an average of 15 miles a day. Every morning we drank strong Spanish coffee, and mid-day we ate a sack lunch of baguette, cheese, olives, and sardines in a church courtyard or a waypoint along the trail. It was a simple routine.

In total, we walked about 600 miles over 40 days from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Muxia, Spain. We, with people young and old from around the world, walked the same path that millions of people have walked for centuries.

Using Father Richard Rohr as a spiritual guide, the Camino was as much an inner spiritual journey as a physical one—our physical, emotional and spiritual selves are intimately connected. I found that as my body broke down through constant walking and lack of sleep, my heart and mind opened up on a deeper level. 

And here is a reflection by Morgan Attema.

Photo: ECM website
WHY? Why? Why do we walk the Camino de Santiago? What do we hope to accomplish, and what are we looking for? We walk seeking the mystery of the Spirit of God within us; we desire to become the true and intended souls that God created us to be. We walk trusting the ancient path and ancient promises and choosing to believe that the Spirit still leads, protects, and heals our wounded selves. We walk listening to the whisper of God coaxing us deeper, the song of God urging us to celebrate, and the joy of God inviting us to participate.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

'A Blessing Over This Humble Offering'

As people of faith, we view our letters to Congress on hunger-related issues as an expression of our faith. Several of our Bread for the World congregations in Albuquerque ask their pastor or another member of the clergy to say a blessing over the letters before they are put in the mail.

Here are some photographs from the blessings of letters written at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Holy Ghost School, and St. John XXIII Catholic Community.

"One of the goals of Holy Ghost Catholic School is Care for Creation," said Rosemary Holland, who facilitates a retreat on this theme at the school. "As part of our action we close the school year with a retreat in each elementary class room to reflect on our responsibility to creation--which certainly includes people most in need. So we invite the students to write a Bread for the World letter."

Prayer Over Letters
God of the Hungry. God of Abundance. God of Grace.
Time and time again, you have called your people to care for those who are hungry and living in the margins. You have given us a world of abundance and we confess that we  have not been good stewards and shared justly.

We give thanks for the freedom and power you give us to resist this injustice. By writing these letters to Congress today, we use that power in a small way so that we might answer your call to feed those who are struggling with hunger.

We present these letters as a humble offering and ask your blessing upon them. Bless those who carry and deliver these letters. Bless the readers and decision makers they reach; that they may hear your call to allocate our shared resources so that people who hunger are fed. Amen.

Rev. Gene Gries, Holy Rosary Church
Leader: Our hearts desire to be in right relationship with God and one another. Therefore, we advocate to our lawmakers to support a budget that invests in programs that move people out of hunger and poverty. Let us act with a mind and heart for justice, love, and mercy.

People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors.

Leader: God, source of life, give us courage to care for all creation with mercy, to treat your people with kindness, and sustain our efforts with your love so all people thrive.

Rev. Ark Biczak, St. John XXIII
People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors.

Leader: God, source of light, we pray for the wisdom to thoughtfully engage with our lawmakers, so they might pass a budget that supports an end to hunger in our world.

People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors.

Leader: God, source of wisdom, ensure in each of us gathered, the desire to speak with authenticity, compassion, and directness to change structures in place that keep people hungry.

People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors.

Leader: God, source of abundance, we pray for those who today will not have enough food to sustain themselves, their families, their neighbors. Challenge us to live in the spirit of your abundance to sustain and provide for all.

People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors.

Leader: God, source of life, may our call to stewardship be a worthy testament to what is most important in your heart: the care and protection of your most vulnerable people.

People: Lord, teach us to respond with your justice, love, and mercy in our endeavors. Amen.

(The blessing was created by Bishop Jose García and Justice H. Randolph. The litany was written by Genevieve Mougey. All three are members of Bread for the World's Church Relations staff).

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Candidates Too

Most of the 80-plus letters written at our Offering of Letters at St. John XXIII Catholic Community on the weekend of July 7-8 were directed to our congressional representatives in Washington. More than one-third of those letters went to Sen. Martin Heinrich, while a dozen or so were addressed to Sen Tom Udall, while the count for Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham was in the teens.  A visitor to our parish from California wrote a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Rep. Lujan Grisham had been the popular choice in our Offerings of Letters the past three years. Many letter-writers, aware that she has announced her decision to step down from her post in the U.S. House of Representatives to run for governor of New Mexico, wrote fewer letters to her.  However, organizers of our Offering of Letters decided to give parishioners the opportunity to write to the three individuals seeking to replace Lujan Grisham in the House: Democrat Deb Haaland, Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton.

Our sample letters to the candidates had slightly different wording than those to sitting members of Congress.  Our messages mentioned the high rate of child hunger and overall food insecurity in New Mexico and suggested that one way to address this situation was to protect funding for vital nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC and tax credits for low-income voters.

My guess is that the candidates are not necessarily receiving letters from would-be constituents at this point in the campaign. Our OL offered the opportunity to those who wanted to send the message to do so.  By this time next year, Haaland, Arnold-Jones or Princeton will be representing the New Mexico First District, and we hope that our letters will plant a seed to ensure that addressing hunger remains on the radar of our new elected official.

Here are additional photos from our Offering of Letters.

Our pastor, Father Ark Biczak
Judy Traeger, a JustFaith facilitator

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Baha'i Community of Albuquerque Hosts Hunger 101 Workshop

Give us our daily bread and grant Thine increase in the necessities of life, that we may be dependent on none other than Thee, may commune wholly with Thee, may walk in Thy ways and declare Thy mysteries. Thou art the almighty and the Loving and the Provider of all mankind. - 'Abdu'l-Bahá

The Baha'i Center of Albuquerque was the fifth congregation to host the Interfaith Hunger Coalition's Hunger 101 workshop. Nearly a dozen people gathered to learn about the history of the coalition and gather information about hunger here in Albuquerque as well as the state of New Mexico and globally.

Barbara Malloy
Barbara Malloy, a member of the Baha'i Community, started us off with Baha'i prayers and reflections, including these words from Abdu'l-Bahá.

"You must turn attention more earnestly to the betterment of the conditions of the poor. Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family.  Regard each one either as a father, or as a brother, or as a sister, or as a mother, or as a child. If you attain to this, your difficulties will vanish, you will know what to do. This is the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh"

Ari Herring
Ari Herring, executive director of the Rio Grande Food Project, offered background and history of her organization and presented opportunities for the Baha'i Center to become involved in the RGFP's work in the community.

The RGFP and the Bahai community are neighbors, creating a natural opportunity to connect. This includes involving the Baha'i youth (as well as adults) in the RGFP's proposed community garden."We could walk there from here," said Ari, whose organization is one of 18 endorsing partner organizations of the IHC.

Participants heard about hunger in New Mexico via the powerpoint presented at the beginning of the workshop was well as information provided by Joy Dinaro, who is the chair the IHC's Education Committee and is also a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Ellen Buelow, chair of the IHC's, advocacy committee spoke of connecting with legislators and candidates for office about hunger in New Mexico. Ellen, who is a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, also led an exercise similar to the hunger banquet. This exercise highlighted the disparities that exist globally in terms of income, education, gender and well-being. The exercise also highlighted the wide diversity of people who form part of our world.

Joy Dinaro
The Albuquerque Baha'i Community is one of 17 endorsing congregations of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition (as of June 2017). Three other endorsing congregations have hosted a Hunger 101 Workshop, including First Presbyterian Church (Albuquerque), Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community and Congregation Albert.

The Jewish Community Center of Albuquerque has also hosted a Hunger 101 workshop. We have also prepared programs similar to Hunger 101 for Church Women United and the Women of the Presbytery of Santa Fe.

Members of the Baha'i Congregation
Message in the hallway at the Baha'i Center

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Relief Efforts for Victims of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala

Photo: Ahora Noticias
When Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted on June 3, villages, coffee farms and a golf resort downslope were consumed in just minutes by a pyroclastic flow — a fast-moving mixture of hot gas and volcanic rock. When an eruption releases mixtures that are denser than air, it forms a toxic landslide, careening downhill at speeds between 30 and 90 miles per hour and temperatures up to 1,300 degrees.  Article in The New York Times
On Sunday, June 3rd, 2018, Volcán Fuego, near Guatemala City, erupted killing at least 99 people. San Lucas Tolimán (which is near the volcano)is safe and has not been affected, but please keep our brothers and sisters in Guatemala in your thoughts and prayers. Friends of San Lucas Tolimán
We are thinking about all those affected by this week's devastating eruption at Volcán de Fuego. The blast occurred about 70 miles away from the farmer groups we work with but only about 20 miles southeast of San Lucas Toliman, where Bill Harris will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in November...Volcanic ash could affect residents across the country, but most of the devastating debris and lava is affecting communities at the base of the volcano. Our thoughts are with those families and rescue workers on-site. Café Campesino
Suggested Donation Sites
Please consider donating through this GoFundMe page that was recommended by Geoffrey Hennies, webmaster, the webmaster for Café Campesino, who lives in Guatemala. The money is passed to Micoope, a local credit union/co-op that is organizing a fundraising effort in the country.

Other groups working on relief and donation efforts include the local Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, the Miguel Vargas Association, the Rotary Club of Guatemala and additional entities listed on Go Fund Me's official relief page.

The following article was posted on the Café Campesino blog shortly before the disaster took place. We will send updates on our November trip to San Lucas Toliman as Habitat for Humanity works to determine the needs of Guatemalan communities.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Sample A Pint of St. Brigid's Brew,,,and Help Catholic Charities

St. Brigid's Brew is a local New Mexican dark chocolate style craft beer formulated by Abbey Brewing and distributed by Admiral Beverage to benefit Catholic Charities' programs. It will be available at Monks' Corner Taproom, 205 Silver Ave. SW, beginning June 10. Join in a special celebration (including food trucks and music) to introduce St. Brigid's Brew at Monks' Corner Taproom, 205 Silver SW G (map), 1:00-4:00 p.m.. For every $5 pint sold, $1 will be donated to Catholic Charities.

Summertime Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Available to New Mexicans

Karen Navarro, Resource Directory Manager for SHARE New Mexico, posted this information in the organization's June newsletter.

All year round, food pantries and mobile food markets throughout the state address the service gap of free or affordable fresh vegetables and fruits available to underserved communities. Each summer there is a plethora of options, with farmers markets throughout the state offering healthy, nutritious food to New Mexicans.

The New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is a statewide resource supporting New Mexico farmers, families and communities by providing public education, food access programs, technical assistance, and advocacy. The NMFMA website provides up-to-date information on everything you would want to know about these nutritious food outlets. Find a farmers market near you.

Also be sure to visit the NMFMA website to learn about Double Up Food Bucks. Utilizing federal and state funding, NMFMA’s Double Up Food Bucks program is available at approx. 80 outlets in New Mexico including farmers’ markets, farm stands, grocery stores, mobile markets, and CSAs. With Double Up Food Bucks, SNAP EBT card holders are better able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables grown in New Mexico. (Eg., if a SNAP recipient spends $26 with the EBT card, he/she can receive – for free -- another $26 in fresh New Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables).

If you would like to receive the SHARE New Mexico newsletter contact Wendy Wintermute (

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Sharing an Iftar Meal with Guests from the Village Café

For the third year in a row, the Interfaith Hunger Coalition (IHC) was invited to share an Iftar meal with the Turkish community in Albuquerque. The practice of sharing a meal with the community at sundown is one way in which Muslims around the world celebrate the end of a day of fasting during the month of Ramadan. (Fasting means no food OR Water. Abstaining from water all day is significant in our high desert environment, especially when temperatures reach the lower 90s!).

Necip Orhan, executive director of the Dialogue Institute-Albuquerque, told us how this spirit of sharing has been a family tradition while he was growing up in his small village in Turkey. During Ramadan, his father would often go to the local café just before sundown and often returned home with several guests to come share an iftar meal with the family. His mother and sisters would always have enough food on hand to share with any guests who arrived at their home.

On Wednesday, June 6, 30-plus members of the IHC and other members of the local community, were the guests for a delicious meal, consisting of a tasty meat patty, potatoes, salad and a sweet cookie-like pastry.

Necip and his wife Rabia did not find the guests this evening at a local cafe, but they sent invitations via a modern-day café (e-mail). The meal was shared with members of the Albuquerque Baha'i Community, Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Central United Methodist Church, Community of Hope, First Congregational Church, Holy Rosary Catholic Community, St. John XXIII Catholic Community, Catholic Charities, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and others.

We ended the meal with a Christian prayer (led by Franciscan Sister Joan Brown) and and Muslim prayer (led by Necip).. Here are some photos.

Necip Orghan
Several guests converse just before the meal is served

Rabia Sahin Orhan (center)
Sister Joan Brown receives special gift from our hosts

Monday, June 04, 2018

The 311 on Children's #SummerMeals in #ABQ, #BernalilloCounty

City of Albuquerque sites are in blue, Bernalillo County in green (see printable listings below)

Photo: NM Alliance for Children
Free meals and summertime recreational info for Summer 2018 is available online now for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County! (See hyperlinks below)

Parents can also call 311 to find the nearest site for free breakfast or lunch, or questions about any summer programs.

 General Guidelines.
  1. Participants must be one to 18 years of age to receive a meal.
  2. Meals or individual food items cannot be taken from the site.
  3. Participants must receive an entire meal, including milk.
  4. All meals will be served on a first come, first served basis.
City of Albuquerque
The Food Service Program for Children provides meals in City community centers, parks, schools, apartment complexes, public housing, churches and at non-profit organizations
Most meal sites will start receiving food services June 4, 2018.
You do not have to be registered at any site listed to participate in the breakfast or lunch program.

See the full listing of sites (in pdf format for printing)

Bernalillo County
The Bernalillo County’s Office of Health and Social Services will be providing free and nutritious meals during the summer from May 30 through Aug. 4, 2018   See the full listing of sites (in pdf format for printing).

Summer Activities for Children and Youth
All Albuquerque summer activities at parks, community centers, libraries and museums, and city-sponsored events:

For a great way for you and the kids to cool off:
Swimming pools and spray parks in the City of Albuquerque:
Swimming pools and spray parks on Bernalillo County website:

There is also a website called “Momsblog,” which provides even more information on spray parks and pools 2018 Ultimate Guide to Summer in Albuquerque

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Albuquerque Baha'i Center to Host Hunger 101 Workshop on June 23

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition invites people of all faiths to join us in our Fifth congregational Hunger 101 Workshop. The workshops are created to help congregations involve members of faith communities in becoming involved in helping fight hunger in their immediate neighborhood, in Albuquerque and in New Mexico.

Hunger 101 Workshop at Jewish Community Center
The workshops provides information about hunger in New Mexico as well as information about opportunities for direct service and for advocacy.

Workshops have been held at First Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, the Jewish Community Center and Congregation Albert. A abbreviated version of Hunger has also been held with Church Women United and the Presyterian Women of the Presbytery of Santa Fe.

The public is invited to the next workshop, hosted by the Albuquerque Baha'i Center, 5700 Ouray Rd. NW, (map), on Saturday, June 23, 1:00-4:00 p.m. See the flyer below for more information or contact the Interfaith Hunger Coalition ( To contact the  Baha'i Center, send an e-mail to

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Santa Fe Mayor Tours City's Food Bank

The Food Depot recently hosted the new mayor of Santa Fe, who took a tour of the food bank's facilities. "A special thank you to City of Santa Fe Mayor Alan M. Webber for taking a tour and learning more about The Food Depot’s work in Northern New Mexico," said Food Depot Director Sherry Hooper. We are so grateful to have the City’s support!