Friday, April 29, 2016

An Evangelical Vision of Advocacy, Justice and Transformation

"Scripture is filled with examples of God's people being called to speak up and defend the rights of the vulnerable and oppressed. Advocacy is not an option for us; it's a biblical responsibility and an integral part of our discipleship and witness. But advocacy is not easy, and Christians have struggled (and often failed) to do it well. This timely and practical resource offers a robust vision of what faithful advocacy can look like today." -Ben Lowe, activist and coauthor of The Future of Our Faith
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy is a senior national associate in Bread for the World's Church Relations Department. She is also one of five co-authors of the book Advocating for Justice: An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures. (Three of the four other others are associated with  prominent theological seminaries).

The book will be launched on Friday, June 3, in conjunction with the 2016 Justice Conference in Chicago on June 3-4. The launch will feature a panel comprised of all five authors and moderator Lynne Hybels, founder of Willow Creek Community Church.

Bread for the World will co-lead a pre-conference track on Poverty in America that Friday.

The transformation of systems and structures is an important contemporary concept in the work of justice. It was a central theme of "Changing the World 101: Ending Hunger as a Case Study for System Change," a conference co-sponsored by  Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), Bread for the World and Second Helpings Food Bank in Indianapolis earlier this month. 

Christians are increasingly interested in justice issues. Relief and development work are important, but beyond that is a need for advocacy. [Advocating for Justice] shows how transforming systems and structures results in lasting change, providing theological rationale and strategies of action for evangelicals passionate about justice.   -Baker Publishing Group

Thursday, April 28, 2016

'One Brick at a Time'

People say, "What is the sense of our small effort?" They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. 

-Dorothy Day  


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bono Commends Illinois Congregation for Efforts on Refugee Crisis

 "In a globalized world, the definition of neighbor is not what it used to be, but the principle hasn’t changed ... We as believers are called to take a stand," -Bono (quoting Matthew 8:20 and 25:42-46 to explain the importance of  responding to the current global refugee crisis).
Bono sent a video message to Bill and Lynn Hybels, pastors at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, to commend and inspire the congregation on this year's Celebration of Hope. "Bill Hybels told the congregation that he and Bono stay in touch, joking that whenever Bono needs song lyrics, he's there for him. When Bono found out that 4,000 runners were participating in a "Run For Refugees" 5K to help refugee women and children receive therapy to recover from the trauma they've endured, he wanted to send a message to the congregation," said Sherry Lawrence in the online site @U2.  Read full piece

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#HungerFistBump

“It’s as American as apple pie. It’s an attaboy. When you give someone a fist bump, you’re telling them, Let’s go do this.” Scott Williams, Christian pastor, social-media strategist and self-appointed world ambassador for the fist bump.  Read more in The New York Times.
Image adapted from Wikimedia Commons photograph
The hashtag #hungerfistbump has appeared in many tweets from Church World Service as well as in CWS retweets of posts by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC),  The Food Recovery Network and the Christian Theological Seminary to celebrate some sort of success related to addressing hunger.

Angela Ruprock-Shafer, who handled social media at CWS for many years, believes she might have been the first person to use the hashtag. Then again, maybe someone else used it before she did. "Surely others were using it before then," she said. Regardless, it's here to stay.

I mainly use Twitter to send out links to posts on my Bread New Mexico blog. And in hindsight, there are many tweets where #hungerfistbump would apply.

Like this one
Or this one


And this one too.
Anyway, here are those early examples of #HungerFistBump


We hope to have many more #hungerfistbumps to show that were are making progress in addressing domestic and global hunger and poverty

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tikkun Olam: Planting a Tree in Albuquerque on Earth Day

We plant for the sake of Tikkun Olam, the repair of God’s order, of God’s universe, our home...And each planting is a reminder of our responsibility. We did not make this world; we are its product and not its producers. But it is ours to enjoy, to explore, and, most of all, to protect. We protect it by planting and by remembering and by connecting, from generation to generation. We plant in order to remember, in order to remind, in order to keep and connect with God’s Creation, our home.  Excerpts from Tree Planting Ceremony from Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life


The festivities for the #EarthDay Seder 2016 at the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque included a tree-planting ceremony, led by Cantor Leon Natker from Congregation B'nai Israel and Shawn Price, who combines his Navajo heritage with the Jewish tradition.

Several children participated in the planting of the tree, symbolizing the intergenerational responsibility of protecting the Earth. Below are more excerpts from the COEJL tree planting ceremony.

"Just as you came and found trees planted by others, you must plant for your children..."

"And each planting is a reminder of our responsibility. We did not make this world; we are its product and not its producers. But it is ours to enjoy, to explore, and, most of all, to protect. We protect it by planting and by remembering and by connecting, from generation to generation." 

Children (and families) play a central role in Passover, and the Earth Day seder meal was no exception.

God built his nation by commanding not a collective gathering of hundreds of thousands in a public square but by asking Jews to turn their homes into places of family worship at a Seder devoted primarily to answering the questions of children.

It seems all too obvious. Children are our future. They are the ones who most require our attention. The home is where we first form our identities and discover our values. (from aish.com)

There are many words to describe Passover: celebration and remembrance, identity and connection (to the Earth and to everyone else on the planet), but most of all thanksgiving and gratitude.

Hodu LAdo-nai Ki Tov Ki Le-olam Has-do. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures for ever. from Psalm 135 (Tellihim-Psalms Chapter 135   Common Worsip Psalter ).

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sustains the entire world with goodness, grace, loving kindness, and compassion. He gives bread to all, for His grace is everlasting. And in His great goodness we have never lacked anything and we will never be deprived of food for the sake of His great name. For He is God who provides for all and does good for all and prepares food for all His creatures that He created. Blessed are You, Lord, who provides for all.  -from the prayer of Grace after the meal.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dear Congress, Please 'Make the World a Better Place'

Illustration from student at South Valley Prep School
Last year, children at All Saints Lutheran Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and St. John XXIII Catholic Community wrote letters on paper plates urging our congressional representatives to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which was the subject of Bread for the World's 2015 Offering of Letters.

We counted the children's messages among the nearly 2,000 letters that were written in New Mexico to our Congressional representatives and senators. And Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham took notice.

Young people in Albuquerque are participating in this year's Offering of Letters, entitled "Survive and Thrive." Like last year's topic, children identify very closely with this year's campaign, which urges Congress to support funding for global nutrition programs for mothers and children. 

Thanks to the inspiration and efforts of Jessica Swan and Mary Ann Holland, elementary and middle school children at South Valley Preparatory School (SVPS) and Holy Ghost Catholic School wrote messages to Rep. Lujan Grisham, Sen. Tom Udall and Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Swan and Holland are both  members of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, and they coordinated the writing efforts at the school with the church's Offering of Letters in March of this year. Holland is a retired faculty member from Holy Ghost school and coordinator of the Care for Creation program at the school.

Students wrote 112 messages at SVPS and 60 at Holy Ghost School, adding to the totals for Holy Rosary community, which were surpassed 500 letters and post cards.

Many of the children who wrote the messages at SVPS come from low-income families. "These students can receive breakfast, lunch and dinner at school," said Ellen Buelow, a local leader for Bread for the World who has organized the Offering of Letters at Holy Rosary for many years. "Jessica supplies organic food to a number of South Valley schools, and she inspired these middle schoolers to write."

The website for the Rio Grande Development Corporation has a nice article on the work of David and Jessica Swan in the community. Here are couple of paragraphs.

Photo; From Swan Kitchen Facebook page
Most everyone remembers elementary and middle school hot lunches. Standing in line at the cafeteria, facing your three lunch ladies, having some food plopped on your try, and getting those cute little milk cartons. Often times we devoured our processed pizza squares and nachos, with an option to get processed fruits and most likely GMO veggies on the side. This is the scene I picture when I think of the traditional hot school lunch.

The school lunch experience is certainly a different one for kids buying lunches at Cien Aguas International School. Thanks to the passion and dedication of Swan Kitchen and Cien Aguas International School officials, hot lunches at Cien Aguas International School are prepared and served by Swan Kitchen using only fresh, fair, organic and local foods of New Mexico.  See full article.  Connect with Swan Kitchen on Facebook 

Friday, April 22, 2016

One Thousand Wells: A Hopeful Sign on #EarthDay

Ten years ago, Jena Lee Nardella was a fresh-out-of-college, twentysomething with the lofty goal of truly changing the world. Armed with a diploma, a thousand dollars, and a dream to build one thousand wells in Africa, she joined forces with Grammy Award–winning band Jars of Clay to found Blood:Water and begin her mission. Jena’s dream for her nonprofit turned that initial $1 into $20, and then $100, and today into more than $25 million. Working throughout eleven countries in Africa, Blood:Water has provided healthcare for over 62,000 people in HIV-affected areas and has partnered with communities to provide clean water for more than one million people in Africa. from synopsis of One Thousand Wells
On Earth Day, we are called to take personal and collective action to preserve our planet, including steps to reduce our ecological footprint.This is also a day to celebrate hopeful signs, such as the work of the organization Blood:Water.

In the book One Thousand Wells, Jena Lee Nardella tells us about the ideas that led to the founding of the organization and the challenges and struggles that followed. Over the past decade, Blood:Water has created the tools (such as wells, biosand filters, rain tanks) to help provide clean water for 1 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and provided assistance for 62,000 patients in areas where HIV is prevalent (hence the word blood)

"Sometimes the best water source is simply beneath a community’s feet. Wells pump safe, clean water for all to use," Blood:Water says on its website.

Rather than tell you more about 1,000 Wells, here is an excerpt of a review that  that my friend Elaine VanCleave posted on Good Reads in August 2015.

Jenna Lee Nardella (center) at a forum in Nashville in 2015
"With the ease of a gifted storyteller, Jena deftly transports us into 'her' world. You’ll climb mountains in Colorado, go on tour with a rock band, fall in love and 'see, touch, smell and encounter the reality of extreme poverty'...Warning! One Thousand Wells is a page-turner. Get out your highlighter and be prepared to stay up all night reading.  Read the full review on Good Reads

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Voice Vote in Favor of the Global Food Security Act

Mrs. FISCHER (Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb). Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to Calendar No. 393, S. 1252, and that the Casey amendment be agreed to; that the committee-reported substitute amendment, as amended, be agreed to; and that the bill, as amended, be read a third time and the Senate vote on passage of the bill with no intervening action or debate.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (S. 1252) to authorize a comprehensive strategic approach for United States foreign assistance to developing countries to reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, build resilience among vulnerable populations, and for other purposes.  -from Congress.gov, April 20
There was no roll call. Instead, there was a voice vote. When the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a major supporter of the initiative, uses the term "unanimous," that means there were only ayes and no nays. From our standpoint in New Mexico, this also means our two U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, added their voices to the chorus of ayes. (As a friend who is anti-hunger advocate would say, #hungerfistbump).

Both the Senate bill and  a companion House measure (approved by an overwhelming margin on April 12)  require the President to coordinate the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to accomplish the objectives of promoting global food security, resilience, and nutrition consistent with national food security investment plans. The two measures leverage resources provided by organizations, private enterprises, and other countries. In addition, they would improve maternal and child nutrition, especially in the key 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The Senate bill would also allow the U.S. to respond quickly to the food needs of communities affected by disaster.
“Today the Senate made important progress toward eliminating inefficiencies in food aid that waste scarce resources and prevent us from feeding millions more people in need around the world more quickly,” said Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, who is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Without the flexibilities that exist for emergency food aid, responding in places like Syria, where U.S. commodities simply cannot reach, would be impossible," Corker said in a news release. "The Emergency Food Security Program is the model for overall food aid reform, and I am hopeful that with today’s action we will continue building momentum behind that effort.”

“I'm thrilled the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to take an important step towards achieving sustainable food security for those who need it most around the world,” said Sen. Chris Coons, ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This bill helps sends an important signal about the need to increase flexibility in how we deliver food aid...Through GFSA, the United States is leading the way to improve food security and promote long-term nutrition for communities in developing countries. I look forward to working across the aisle in the future to continue to reform the way in which the United States delivers food aid. More flexibility allows us to reach more people at the same cost.”
"We applaud the Senate leadership for passing this bipartisan legislation,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World, which supported the initiative along with 68 other organizations. “The bill calls for a global food security strategy, similar to the approach used by the Feed the Future initiative. It will affect many of the more than 795 million chronically malnourished people worldwide, including 159 million children.”

“We are excited that both chambers passed their versions of the law with overwhelming bipartisan support. The two bills are nearly identical, reflecting a strong, bipartisan commitment to a vital program,” said Mitchell.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Responding to the Earthquake in Ecuador

Map from Charity Navigator
The number of confirmed fatalities from last weekend’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast stands at 443, Defense Minister Ricardo Patiño said Tuesday. “We are certain that that figure will continue rising,” he said. “We will surely find more bodies.” More than 4,000 other people were injured in the temblor and 231 individuals are listed as missing, the defense chief said.   -Latin American Herald Tribune

Donate to Catholic Relief Services  UNICEF   CARE   Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana  American Red Cross  Samaritan's Purse

Read article in The Huffington Post on how funds will be used


Here is a prayer from Catholic Relief Services for all of those affected by the earthquake in Ecuador.  Download the prayer from the CRS website.  Descargue oración por todos los afectados por el terremoto en Ecuador 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Celebrate the Earth in Albuquerque

There was a time when the only major Earth Day celebration in Albuquerque was the festival behind La Montañita Cooperative. This year, the Nob Hill event will be celebrating its 26th year.  '

The commemoration of Earth Day has evolved in the Duke City over the years, and awareness about the environment and the need to protect our natural resources has taken on great importance in light of  global efforts to address climate change.

Now there are multiple events around the city on or near Earth Day, including a special Seder at the Jewish Community Center (sorry, it's sold out!).
Many other events have been scheduled around the city, including

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dave Miner Promotes Forum on Hunger and System Change

Dave Miner is a tireless anti-hunger advocate. So, it was very fitting that he was the one interviewed on this television segment about an upcoming event in Indianapolis. The event, entitled "Changing the World 101: Ending Hunger as a Case Study for System Change," is co-sponsored by Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), Bread for the World and Second Helpings Food Bank, as well as a few other leaders seeking social change. The event is scheduled for this evening, Monday, April 18, 7-9 p.m. at the CTS campus.

One of the presenters is Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton,  who serves on the Bread board along with Dave. Matthew, who is president and professor of theology at CTS, will share the theological perspective on system change and feeding the hungry. Click on this link for more information about the forum, including the full line-up of speakers. The event is free, but registration is required.



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Homecoming: An Earth Day Reflection from JustFaith Ministries

Here is a wonderful reflection from JustFaith Ministries, excerpted and adapted from its One Common Home Retreat.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live...” Deuteronomy 30
Catch your breath...
Feel the ground beneath your feet...
Bring your heart and mind into this precious, present moment.

"Breathe in us o breath of God. Breathe life in us anew, that we might love this WORLD You love, and do as You would do. Breathe in us anew! Breathe in us, O breath of God."

Have you felt scattered, your mind distracted, your heart divided, while so much of the majesty and tragedy of life seems to pass you by?

We can become numb, and live synthetic lives. We can forget that life is a brief and fragile gift.

We can lose track of our connections; out of touch with Nature, with our Neighbors, and with our Maker.

We can overlook our responsibility to cherish life and take care of Our Common Home, till something or someone breaks through and wakes us up.

The Psalmist reminds us:
The Earth belongs to God!Psalm 24:1

Astronomers tell us there is no place like our planet home in a trillion, trillion miles. Our faith teaches that this not simply a way station, we are not just passing through.
The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral develoment, for we know that things can change.” -Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ 13
Take these homecoming questions to heart, and share them with your community:
  • What do you do to get out of your head and come down to earth?
  • What places or practices put you in touch with life?
  • What or who keeps you grounded and helps you remember what is precious and important in life?
The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust.-Earth Charter

See Reflection  in its original and printable form

Saturday, April 16, 2016

La Montañita Cooperative Invites You to Celebrate Earth Day

La Montañita Cooperative is hosting Earth Day celebrations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. On Friday, April 22 (Earth Day itself), the Santa Fe store,913 West Alameda St.,  will be hosting a barbecue from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

The big event, the 26th Annual EarthFest celebration, is scheduled for Sunday, April 24, on Silver St., behind the Nob Hill store in Albuquerque. This year is special because it marks the 40th anniversary of La Montañita Cooperative.

ONE Campaign table at Earth Day celbration in 2010
"Over the years we have watched EarthFest grow with much good environmental and justice work done and connections and relationships grown. We are deeply moved by and thankful for how the New Mexican community has come together, to grow this festival into one of the most beloved of spring events, said Robyn Seydel, member coordinator at the Co-op.

"The joyous nature of the festival with its the coming together of friends new and old coupled with the good work we can accomplish when we cooperate makes EarthFest an important part of how we positively impact lives in our community and restore and sustain our little planet."  Read more Robyn Seydel and EarthFest 2016 in this post in the Co-op website.

Here is schedule of entertainment for the 2016 EarthFest.

Ehecatl Aztec Dancers
10:00am: Ehecatl Aztec Dancers
11:00am: Eileen and the In-Betweens
12:00pm: Alma Flamenca
1:00pm: Zoltan and the Fortune Tellers
2:00pm: Baila Baila Dance Company
2:30pm: Adama African Dancers and Drummers
3:00pm: Silver Strings Band
4:00pm: Cowboys and Indian
5:00pm: The Blue Hornets

Friday, April 15, 2016

Double-Up Food Bucks Program Back in 2016

When the Legislative Finance Committee was considering funding for various programs in this budget-challenged year, members proposed to cut funding for the Double Up Food Bucks program to $100,000 for 2016, one-fourth of what was allocated in 2015. Under the program, participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) have the chance to stretch out their food-stamp benefits when shopping for fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets throughout the state.

The severe cut proposed by the LFC would have severely hampered the Double Up Food Bucks program, which not only helps SNAP recipients but also small farmers around the state. So, the New Mexico Farmers Market Association (NMFMA) and the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council moved into action and managed to convince the State Legislature to allocate $390,000 for the program. That means that the reduction in funding was only $10,000 and not $300,000! (Read summary of food and nutrition issues addressed in the 2016 Legislature)

Here's how the program works:Get more fruits and vegetables when you spend your SNAP EBT Card dollars at participating farmers’ markets. It’s easy with Double Up Food Bucks! For example, if you spend $10 from your SNAP EBT Card at a participating farmers market, we give you another $10 to buy fresh fruits and veggies grown in New Mexico. If you spend $26 from your SNAP EBT Card, we give you another $26 for fresh New Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables. It’s that easy! Some farmers’ markets may have a limit for daily Double Up purchases, others may not. Check with the folks at your local farmers’ market information table to find out!

Now that the farmers market season is around the corner, the Double Up Food Bucks will also be at each of the sites around the state. To learn more about the plans for 2016, we invite you to the next meeting of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition on Tuesday, April 19. Our guest speaker is Lucy McDermott, an Albuquerque-based program specialist for the NMFMA. Here are details of the meeting.

Tuesday, April 19,
First Presbyterian Church
(I-25 and Martin Luther King Blvd.)
Noon

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Global Food Security Act Wins in a Landslide!

Image from The Bergen Project
A landslide. That term is most appropriate to describe the support that H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, received in a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 12. A total of 370 members of the House, including our own Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, cast a Yea vote in support of this very important measure, which goes a long way to address global hunger. The measure was approved in a truly bipartisan landslide.  A huge majority of Republicans (201) and all the Democrats who voted (169) supported the initiative. There were 33 Republicans who cast a Nay vote, and 30 other Democrats and Republicans, including our own Rep. Steve Pearce, who did not vote. The measure now goes to the Senate, which will consider S.1252

House members, no doubt, received a lot of emails and phone calls from their constituents.  This was due in part to strong advocacy for H.R. 1567 from a number of organizations.  Here are some messages that were put out on Twitter after the bill passed.




Here is a quick summary of H.R. 1567 from Congress.gov

The bill requires the President to coordinate the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to accomplish the objectives of promoting global food security, resilience, and nutrition consistent with national food security investment plans.

The President must coordinate the efforts of relevant departments and agencies in implementing the Global Food Security Strategy by establishing monitoring and evaluation systems, coherence, and coordination across relevant departments and agencies; and platforms for regular consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders.

By October 1, 2016, the President must submit the strategy to Congress, including a detailed description of how the United States intends to advance the objectives and agency-specific implementation plans.

The bill authorizes the President to provide foreign assistance to implement the strategy and prevent or address food shortages. The President must ensure that assistance to implement the strategy is provided under established parameters for a system to monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of the strategy, including by providing specified reports to Congress and the public.

Okay Senate, the ball is in your court.