Friday, October 31, 2014

Bread Rising in New Mexico: Norbertine Community a Steadfast Supporter of Anti-Hunger Efforts

Meeting with an aide to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in Washington
The Norbertine Community of Santa Maria de la Vid has been a strong partner with Bread New Mexico for as long as I remember. The Norbertine fathers and brothers strongly supported Bread for the World's Offerings of Letters, both by writing letters within their own community and providing support and encouragement for volunteers at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community.

Norbertine seminarian Graham Golden participated in visits to legislative offices both here in Albuquerque and in Washington.  Therefore, we thought it was fitting for a Norbertine priest to hold the Call to Prayer at our Bread Rising in New Mexico event on October 25.  Here is the invocation from Rev. Gene Gries, a strong anti-hunger advocate in his own right.

BFTW - Father Gene Gries from Larry Buelow on Vimeo.

Ellen Buelow, a member of the local Bread for the World leadership team and a parishioner at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary community, spoke about what actions are available to us at present to address global hunger, specifically initiatives related to food-aid reform.

BFTW Ellen Buelow from Larry Buelow on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bread Rising in New Mexico: Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future

I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us. -Anne Lamott
Patty Emord welcomed us to St. Andrew
How did we get here? What did we accomplish? Where are we going? Those central questions was part of our simple but very meaningful celebration of prayer, reflection and song on Saturday, October 25, which we called Bread Rising in New Mexico. Several dozen people joined in the celebration at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church that afternoon..

We came together to observe Bread for the World's 40th birthday. More importantly, we put together a celebration that allowed us to stop and think of how that long history of Bread applied to us here in New Mexico. Just as all politics is local, all grassroots advocacy is rooted in local activity.

We asked St. Andrew to host the event because this congregation has been a part of Bread for the World's history in Albuquerque from the almost the very beginning. (We could have also held our celebration at St. Paul Lutheran Church, with whom we also have a long relationship).

With a slide show we celebrated the decision of Jim Brown, a member of the Christian Brothers, to take on the role of  volunteer state coordinator in 1984. We rejoiced as we remembered how a group of Bread members, including Lutheran Campus Pastor Howard Corry, decided to create a local group in 1989 and then promote Offerings of Letters among churches in Albquerque. Then we lifted up the dozens of churches that stepped up over the years to hold  letter-writing Sundays (and sometimes Saturdays and weeknights) in New Mexico, including Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church in the tiny community of Truchas, Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in downtown Albuquerque, St. John's United Methodist Church in Santa Fe and many, many others. Here is a video of my introduction to the slide show.

New Bread members Dianne Dragoo and Rena Dragoo
Celebrating People
Our advocacy over the years went beyond the pen and paper (and more recently the computer). We viewed pictures of Bread members from New Mexico who took our message directly to members of Congress and candidates with direct visits in Albuquerque and Washington. We also used the occasion to recognize one of our own members of Congress, who has been an "Outstanding Anti-Hunger Adovcate for New Mexico."

Our slide show also celebrated dozens of individuals who have long been the core of Bread New Mexico over the past 30 years, including those who were involved in the 1990s, the 2000s, those who are part of our current leadership team, and the local members who have become involved more recently. And how can we forget our regional organizers?  Emily Abbott, Zelinda Welch, Matt Newell-Ching, Holly Hight and Robin Stephenson? We also expressed gratitude for the partnerships that s we forged with the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, The New Mexico Conference of Churches, New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps and the CARE Action Network.

Our walk down memory lane also included scenes of those times when we came together for worship in ecumenical services, Circle of Protection prayers and songs, and to heed the call from Pope Francis to pray for an end to hunger. Because we come from diverse Christian faith traditions, our ecumenical choir was an important part of our celebration. And fittingly, the opening and closing song was Bread for the World, a piece composed by Marty Haugen on the occasion of Bread's 35th anniversary. We also have a video of the choir performing Pan de Vida (Bob Hurd)

Looking Ahead: The Bread Rising Campaign
David Miner, chair of Bread Rising Campaign
Our review of our history was very important for the other purpose that brought us together in this sanctuary: the Bread Rising campaign, which aims to end hunger by 2030. David Miner, national chair of the Bread Rising campaign and an anti-hunger activist in Indianapolis, was a special guest at our service.

The campaign urges Bread members and supporters around the country to take three important actions: 1) increase our commitments to ongoing prayers for the end of hunger; 2) redouble our commitment to advocacy; 3) provide the resources to help our organization leverage the big changes that are needed to end hunger. We asked local Bread members to prepare reflections on those three actions as well as the goal to end hunger in our country by 2030. Those reflections are included in a separate piece that we will be posting soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bread Rising in New Mexico: Ecumenical Choir Sings 'Pan de Vida'

A couple of days ago we posted videos of two songs from our Bread Rising in New Mexico celebration on October 25. Those songs were the song Bread for the World by Marty Haugen and the traditional hymn Lift Every Voice and Sing. Here is a third video of our ecumenical choir, courtesy of Larry Buelow.

BFTW_Pan de Vida from Larry Buelow on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bread Rising in New Mexico: An Outstanding Anti-Hunger Advocate

We honored Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham at our Bread Rising in New Mexico celebration on October 25.  (There will be several other posts from the event in the coming days). Because of a busy schedule, the congresswoman could not be there herself to accept the recognition. Field representative Alexandria Bazan accepted the certificate on behalf of the congresswoman. A video of the presentation and a letter from Rep. Lujan Grisham to participants (read by Ms. Bazan) is right below.
Taking the SNAP Challenge
Larry Buelow, Ellen Buelow, Alex Bazan (Field Representative)

BFTW Award Presentation from Larry Buelow on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bread Rising in New Mexico: May We Be Bread for the World

(Left to Right) Debbie Steffen (St. Andrew Presbyterian Church), Joan Brown (Franciscan Sisters), Anne Hanke (St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church), Terese Bridges (St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church), Rev. Steve Miller (Disciples of Christ), Mark Peceny (Dominican-Newman Community), Erik Medina (First Congregational Church) and Bill Miller (St. Andrew Presbyterian Church)
Marty Haugen wrote the song Bread for the World in honor of Bread for the World's 35th anniversary in 2009. This tribute was the opening and closing song for the Bread Rising in New Mexico event in October 2014. This was a celebration of Bread's 40th anniversary and 30 years of presence in New Mexico.  A more detailed post (or posts) about the event will following in coming days.  For now, I want to take the opportunity to share these two videos of our ecumenical choir performing the Marty Haugen piece and the traditional hymn Lift Every Voice and Sing. .

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lutheran Pastor to Speak in Albuquerque about Faith Community's Response to 2008 Immigration Raid in Postville, Iowa

Photo: Chicago Religious Leadership on Latin America
On May 12, 2008, federal immigration officers dressed in  riot gear raided the Agriprocessors meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, and arrested nearly 400 people for alleged immigration violations.

The raid--which at the time was the largest single-site immigration operation in the country--affected many families in this community of slightly more than 2,000 residents in northeast Iowa. The raid left women, children and other dependents  without their principal breadwinner. "Leaders of the relief effort reported the workers' paychecks have stopped, and their families' greatest need now is cash to pay basic household expenses and medical costs," Decorah (Iowa) Newspapers said in an article published on May 18.
The faith community reacted with sense of outrage about the raid, both protesting the move and mobilizing  to help the families. Among those involved in the relief efforts was Rev. David Vázquez, then campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, who joined members of other faith communities in the area to form the Postville Response Coalition. Rev. Vázquez worked in areas of coordination, advocacy and legal support. The Postville incident became a symbol of the excessive punitive nature of our immigration laws and a rallying point for immigration reform.

Keynote Speaker at Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Conference
Rev. Vázquez will be the keynote speaker at the Advocacy 2014 conference in Albuquerque, sponsored by the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico. The half-day event will be held on Saturday, November 8, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church,  211 Jefferson NE (Jefferson & Copper) Map  Registration cost is $15 per person, including lunch. Session topics will include advocacy basics, hunger, immigration and more. 

To register or for more information, send your name and contact information to  The Registration Deadline is November 4.

Originally from Guatemala, Rev. Vázquez has served in places as diverse as rural Indiana, working for refugee resettlement in Canada, and an international community in southern Germany. He has spoken at various regional and national events around issues of immigration as well as youth and young adult culture, and focuses his research work on immigration as a central image in sacred texts.

Rev.  Vázquez, who was recently selected as the new president of Pacific School of Religion, has developed Bible studies from the perspective of  immigrants and refugees. His writings include Out of the Waters: Resisting the Power of Fear, a Bible study on the book of Exodus, published by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and 1 and 2 Samuel from the Books of Faith Bible Study Series by Augsburg Fortress Publishers and co-author with Diane Jacobson of Ruth, published under the same series.

He has also served as consultant on two documentaries related to the Postville raid, “abUSed: The Postville Raid” by Luis Argueta (see Vimeo below) and Vivian Rivas and "Guatemala: A Tale of Two Villages," by Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek. 

Luis Argueta: "Postville Raid: U.S. immigration enforcement and the effects on immigrant children and families" from Fairhaven College, WWU on Vimeo.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrating the Festival of Lights

There are many common values among the many faith traditions that span our globe. This week, we join with our Hindu, Sikh, and Jain brothers and sisters to celebrate Diwali, also known as Deepavali and the "festival of lights." This ancient Hindu festival, celebrated in autumn every year, signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival coincides with the Hindu New Year and normally occurs sometime in late October through early November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bread for the World, CROP Walk: An Enduring Presence in New Mexico

Isotopes mascot Orbit is often seen at the CROP Walk
This is a big weekend for anti-hunger activities in Albuquerque. On Saturday, October 25, we have our Bread Rising in New Mexico event to celebrate Bread for the World's 40th birthday and 30 years of presence in  New Mexico. On Sunday, October 26, dozens of people of faith will participate in the CROP Walk, which has taken place in Albuquerque for at least as long as Bread for the World has been here (and maybe longer) The two activities complement each other very nicely, since Bread is focused on anti-hunger advocacy and efforts to change the system, and CROP Walk (a project of the national organization Church World Service). has done a great job of raising funds each year for hunger and disaster relief.

The Albuquerque CROP Walk is just one of many hunger walks scheduled in communities around the state this year. Groups in Curry County, the Four Corners,, Las Vegas and Gallup already held their hunger walks in the past few weeks, and others are scheduled in Los Alamos, Las Cruces and Carlsbad in October and November.  A group in Roswell plans to have a  CROP Walk in that community in southeastern New Mexico this spring. See full New Mexico schedule

St. Paul Lutheran Church walkers (Photo: Church World Service)
A northern route in 2014
Many churches around the city have served as starting and ending points for the local CROP Walk, including Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Central United Methodist Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Second Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and others..One year the CROP Walk was held on the  Albuquerque West Side, but I don't recall which church was the starting point. This year, the walk will take place in the northern part of town,with participants leaving Holy Cross Lutheran Church (6901 Wyoming Blvd.) and walking 3.3 miles around the perimeter trail of Albuquerque Academy and Hoffmantown Church. Registration begins at 1:15 p.m., with the walk starting at 2:00 p.m. There will be a soup dinner at 4:00 p.m.  For more information contact Judy Gibbs

Participants are raising money two ways,  1) through direct appeals to their friends, neighbors and fellow church member and online. Online donations stood at more than $4,000 as of  Oct. 21. Click here to donate online   Register online (You can walk with a church or organization or as an individual). Last year, participants--including more than 25 faith communities and businesses--raised $23,768.00, almost a 30% increase over 2012  Will there be another increase this year? One-fourth of the money raised stays in the community, with funds donated this year to the Rio Grande Food Project and Project Share.  The other 75% of the funds will help CWS anti-hunger and disaster relief efforts in our country and around the globe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just the Right Attitude Honors Bread Member Sister Jane Remson

JTRA honors Sister Jane Remson and NOAAHH
The New Orleans-based organization Just the Right Attitude (JTRA) honored Carmelite Sister Jane Remson and New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness (NOAAHH) for their work to address hunger and homelessness in New Orleans at its First Annual Brunch  this fall. Sister Jane, who heads Bread for the World New Orleans, is also founding president of NOAAHH.

(Photo: (Left to right) Corey Evans, Sr., JTRA President; Debra South Jones, JTRA Founder and Executive Director; Sr. Jane F. Remson, O.Carm., NOAAHH Executive Board Member Emeritus; Pierre Hilzim)

The work of JTRA, NOAAHH and Bread for the World New Orleans is crucial in the City of New Orleans, which has the second-highest rate of food hardship in the United States, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Food hardship is defined as the lack of money to buy food that families need and is considerably worse for households with children. An estimated 17,000 to 19,000 men, women and children in the New Orleans area are homeless.

JTRA, founded by executive director Debra South Jones, has been working to address hunger in New Orleans since 1999.  In 2013 JTRA served more than 800,000 pounds of food, over 8,000 meals per month, hundreds of turkey giveaways at Thanksgiving, and bikes and toys giveaways at Christmas. After Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, JTRA partnered with NOAAHH and United Way to serve thousands of needy families in Louisiana and Mississippi. It is the largest neighborhood-based emergency food distribution agency in New Orland and the largest single-site distribution agency in New Orleans.

NOAAHH, founded in 1985 by renown recording and performing artists Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville, raises funds through concerts and other special campaigns to provide funding for organizations that serve the poor, hungry and homeless in the New Orleans area. To date NOAAHH has distributed more than $1 million in grants to 50 plus area organizations. In 2013, NOAAHH donated $42,000 to 15 community organizations.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bread Members in Alabama Ensure that Hunger is Addressed in Upcoming Election for Open Seat in Sixth District

The elections in 2014 (congressional) and 2016 (congressional and presidential) are vitally important to Bread for the World. Bread wants to help end hunger by 2030, and to do that, it needs to help build the political will to make hunger a national priority by 2017. Starting with this year’s elections, Bread hopes it can get a Congress and new president who are behind these goals.   from  "Hunger is an Election Issue"
Posing with Rep. Bachus at Bread Lobby Day 2014
A group of Bread for the World members in Alabama, led by Suzanne Stigler Martin and Kristin Farmer, are making sure that hunger becomes an issue in the congressional election for the open seat in the 6th Congressional District. The Bread advocates met with Democrat Mark Lester on Sept. 18 and Republican Gary Palmer on October 6.  The two candidates are running for the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus (who has been a strong ally of Bread in the fight against hunger and poverty).

In New Mexico, we know from personal experience that the meetings are useful in ensuring that candidates become familiar Bread for the World  and also start thinking about hunger. We met with five candidates in November 2011 when the seat in the First Congressional District first became vacant, and again in October 2012, when two finalists were running in the general election. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has become an anti-hunger champion through her work in the House Agriculture Committee, won that election.

In their meetings with candidates Lester and Palmer, the Alabama Bread members asked the candidates  two questions.

1. Will you prayerfully and thoughtfully consider U.S. Government programs targeted at reducing poverty and eradicating hunger and poverty?

2. How do you believe that the U.S. Government can best attack issues of hunger and poverty?

Below are the responses for the two candidates.

Mark Lester

Gary Palmer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grow the Future NM to Host First Annual Vegg Fest

Grow the Future NM invites you to  the first annual VEGG Fest on Saturday, October 18, at  Cornelio Candelaria, Organics, 505 Foothill Rd,  SW (Map), in the Albuquerque South Valley.  

The event will feature Burque Sol, Wake Self and other local bands, local food and family fun The event will start with the regular Saturday Market at the Farm from 8:00am-1:00pm, followed by the festival from 1:00pm-10:00pm. 

For more information contact Grow the Future, or (505) 331-6390

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photographs from World Homeless Day in Downtown Albuquerque

The global community observed World Homeless Day on Friday, October 10. In Albuquerque,ABQ Cares For All organized a public gathering the next day at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque. About 300 people attended this community event on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. A number of fun activities were featured. There was reggae music that got people up dancing. There was art-making for parents and children and everyone else (ArtStreet's table). And there was a huge "Blessings for Burque" backpack giveaway to folks who were homeless, stocked with food and toiletry items.

Organizers said the purpose of the event was to foster community among Albuquerqueans: housed and “non-housed.” with our common interest being to draw attention to the need for everyone in Albuquerque to have a home.

If you want more information or want to get involved in next year's event, visit the ABQ Cares for All Facebook page  or contact: Page Nall,

Below are a few photographs from Saturday's events, taken by Carlos Navarro. (Text by Karen Navarro)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Water-Rights Activist and Farmer Evelyn Curtis-Losack Featured Speaker at Local World Food Day Dinner

 "[Evelyn Curtis-Losack] unselfconscious octogenarian heroine, tending to the land and the History of Corrales New Mexico; selling her peaches, making her best apple pies, writing letters and teaching music." -Stacia Spragg-braude, author and photographer
"...having had the pleasure of meeting Evelyn at the Corrales growers market, she is fun, forthcoming, wise and did  I mention Fun."  -Katherine Chavez, organizer for New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps
Evelyn Curtis-Losak, Kathy Chavez, Alida Davila Larrichio
After reading those two quotes, you really, really want to meet Evelyn Curtis-Losak. She is a woman farmer and water rights activist who lives right here in our community.  Ms. Curtis-Losak is Losack, co-founder of the Corrales Cultural Arts Council, the Corrales Harvest Festival, and the Corrales Growers' Market,

You can learn more about Ms. Curtis-Losak's storied life through photographs and text in Stacia Spragg-braude's book entitled If There's Squash Bugs in Heaven, I Ain't Staying: Learning to Make the Perfect Pie, Sing When You Need to and Find the Way Home

Better yet. There are two ways to meet ms Curtis-Losak in person. The first is to go to the Corrales Growers Market on Sundays and chat with her at her produce stand. The second way is to attend the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps annual World Food Day Community Dinner. on Saturday, October 18, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church. Ms. Curtis-Losak is the featured speaker.

The  World Food Day meal will be entirely local, made by a community chef from food purchased or donated at the Albuquerque Downtown Growers Market.  The organizers invite you to gather in solidarity with people who grow the world’s food and add to the discussion about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and learn how you can take personal actions that will help protect farmers and farmland. :"Most of the food will be purchased on the day of the dinner from the Downtown Growers Market and cooked on site,"  Kathy Chavez  said in the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps blog.,. Some food items have already been prepared and frozen, including quelites, verdolagas, and tamales.

Tte New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light is co-hosting the dinner.Other organizations are providing support, including Food Corps-New Mexico, ABQ Hours Exchange, Slow Food ABQ, and Bread New Mexico.

Click Here to Reserve Your Free Ticket (s) for the Dinner

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Commemorating International Day of the Girl

Colors saturated the walls in the room where the writing club gathered at J.L. Zwane. Purple along one side, orange on the opposite, anchored by yellow at each end. On Saturday afternoons for a year, anywhere from 4 to 22 girls, ages 13 through 20, gathered. At our first meeting, we brainstormed together for a name. They settled on Amazw’Entombi, “Voices of the Girls.”  -Kimbery Burge on Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu (Of Note Magazine)
The Born Frees
My friend Kimberly Burge, a journalist and author, came to Gugulethu in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar in 2010 to lead a weekly creative writing club for teen-aged girls, based at J.L. Zwane Presbyterian Church and Community Center. From her experiences and the words of many of these girls, she wrote The Born Frees, a book about girls growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.  The title will be published next August by WW. Norton. You can get a taste of the contents of the book via a great piece that  Kimberly wrote for Of Note magazine. The above quote is from the article, which is available online 

Given her experiencs in South Africa, I think it was more than appropriate that Kimberly be the one to write a piece about the International Day of the Girl Child for the Bread blog. In 2012, the U.N. declared October 11 an official celebration of girls to raise awareness about gender inequality and issues that affect girls around the world. While girls experience higher levels of poverty and hunger, they also hold the key to greater development. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is the main sponsor of the global celebration. The United States has its own Day of the Girl committee.

"It’s fitting that today’s the day Malala Yousafzai has been named a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (along with Indian children’s rights activist Khailash Satyarthi)," Kimberly wrote in a piece for the Bread blog dated Oct. 10. "Tomorrow is the third celebration of International Day of the Girl Child.  Malala captured the world’s attention when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for attending school and actively encouraging other girls to be in school in the Swat Valley, where she lived in Pakistan. After her remarkable recovery, she has become internationally renowned as an advocate for girls’ education worldwide. October 11 is an important day " 

The blog post makes a very important point.  "Opportunities abound to empower girls. Right now, the follow-up plan is being developed for the post-2015 next steps in the Millennium Development Goals. A panel – co-chaired by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, U.K. prime minister David Cameron, and Indonesian president Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – recommended that  the post-2015 agenda should include a specific goal to empower girls and women."   Read full blog post

Several humanitarian organizations have planned their own commemorations of  Day of the Girl. Here are examples of how a couple of these organizations are observing this day.
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is urging supporters to  share the image on the left on Facebook. "Today, the International Day of the Girl, we remember our sisters and daughters around the world—especially the 31 million girls of primary school age who are not enrolled in school," said CRS. "That’s a big—and disturbing—number. Girls who don’t attend school are more likely to be married off in childhood, live in poverty and experience physical or sexual violence. That’s shocking. That’s unacceptable. And we won’t stand for it. With your help, Catholic Relief Services is using education to protect vulnerable girls overseas.
CARE: Through the Eyes of a Girl
CARE has put together a a gallery of videos entitled Through the Eyes of a Girl. In August and September 2013, CARE staff carrying colored pencils, pastels, paint and paper visited school girls in Madagascar, Honduras, Georgia, Ghana and India. It was screened at the "Through the Eyes of a Girl" exhibition, a collection of nearly 100 vivid, poignant works of art depicting the joys and struggles experienced by girls and young women around the world in pursuit of their education  Follow this link to see these great videos.