Because of Jesus
When the news reporter approached me, I was milling about in the grass, adjusting my pastoral… Continue Reading
Date: Proper 13 – Aug. 3, 2014
Topic: Ending Hunger
Focus Text: Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus’ feeding the multitudes is found in all four gospels. Both Matthew and Mark include two feeding stories. While Luke includes only the feeding of the five thousand, his gospel is filled with significant events surrounding meals. John’s extended account of the feeding of the multitude is interwoven with his account of the Eucharist. All of the evangelists saw in this story something crucial to the identity of Jesus and the life of the church.
There’s lots to celebrate this month. Besides my birthday (smile), the month of June is when we observe Men’s Health Week and National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. These two issues, each important enough on their own, also overlap as men are encouraged to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals in order to remain healthy and strong. Our nation’s dietary guidelines are updated every five years, with the most recent set of guidelines released in 2010. In this report, the US Department of Agriculture advises both men and women to…
I’ll never forget how it felt to serve dinner to this group. About 30 hungry, tired farmworkers arrived back at their camp just as it was getting dark, and they were kind enough to welcome us into their humble space for a shared meal. This group of mostly young men had been busy harvesting sweet potatoes down East. Most were indigenous Mexicans who learned Spanish as a second language, who didn’t know any English.
As we spooned out rice and beans and poured soda from two-liter bottles, I was struck at how rare it is for any of us to meet the people who actually produce and harvest the food we eat. From our history of slavery to our modern industrial context, our society has not really reckoned with the grim reality of those at the bottom of our food chain.
Shannon Axtell Martin, Regional Consultant, Partners in Health & WholenessThere is nothing like the aroma of bread baking, and the incredibly comforting and satisfying taste of warm, fresh bread. From “give us this day our daily bread” to “I am the bread of heaven” to the feeding of the 5,000 to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, this seemingly simple food is so theologically rich. It is used to represent Christ’s body, God’s provision of manna in the wilderness, and livelihood in general.
As you’ll see in the news clip and discussion above, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to implement major changes to how chickens are processed. These changes will harm workers and consumers alike.
The USDA plans to implement a new rule to increase production speed and eliminate 75% of USDA inspectors in poultry processing factories. Companies will police themselves. During the comment period last year, the proposed rule was savaged by food safety experts, animal rights activists, and worker advocates. There was no credible rebuttal to their concerns. With faster production and less oversight, it’s no surprise that the pilot program found higher rates of salmonella.
Governor Pat McCrory recently issued a proclamation declaring September 15-21 to be “Farm Safety and Health Week.” Here at the NC Council of Churches, we’ve been working with rural communities and farmworkers for decades, and we are well aware of the need for safety on our state’s farms. Our friends at NC FIELD have issued a powerful press release calling attention to the need for not only words from the Governor’s mansion but for real actions by all NC agencies and growers to make farmwork safer and to close the child labor loophole that puts kids in danger.
The Jefferson PostHave you ever gone to bed hungry? Have you ever skipped a meal so that your children could eat? Have you ever waited in a long line to take home a bag of leftover groceries that was no longer fit for store shelves?
Did you know that 1 in 6 North Carolina households reported serious problems affording adequate nutritious food at some point last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today. Of the North Carolinians experiencing this food insecurity, some 5.5 percent experienced very low food security – meaning that one or more household members had to reduce their food intake at least some time during the year.
Somewhat lost this summer amidst all the conversation about comprehensive immigration reform is a little-known bill called the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (or “Ag Act,” HB 1773) that has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. This harmful bill is a thinly veiled attempt to strip farmworkers of the few rights they have on the job while propping up agribusinesses’ bottom line.
American spirituality is discovering itself anew as people of faith reconnect with the land. As I’ve traveled the country I’ve met fellow Christians who are falling in love with their faith all over again, and in every instance this love affair is tied to a place. Not a lofty cathedral directing the worshipper’s thoughts heavenward; these places draw the eyes—and the hands—down to earth, back to the soil from which Genesis tells us we were formed, and which we’re called to “tend and keep.” Our first and most basic human task, I’ve come to learn, is to care for the garden.
So begins Fred Bahnson’s recent op-ed article in the Washington Post. If you don’t know Fred already, you should. He’s a gifted speaker and writer, a thinker and theologian, but most importantly, he’s a gardener. After working for years with Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC, he now directs the new Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
Since the end of slavery in America, no workers have been more exploited than the men and women who bend to the earth in backbreaking labor, picking fruits, vegetables, and tobacco. Despite miracles of agricultural progress and innovation over the decades, the harsh lives and working conditions of migrant laborers have changed very little. Their cause has been championed in the past by Edward Murrow, Cesar Chavez, and the United Farmworkers. But that list is incomplete without Baldemar Velásquez . Velásquez was among hundreds of thousands of children who joined their migrant parents working long hours in the fields. Inspired by that early experience, Velásquez founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967.
Date: Proper 16 – Aug. 25, 2013
Focus Text: Isaiah 58:9b-14
God does not say here, “The poor you have with you always, so relax, take your time, pay your bills, balance your budget, play the lottery, fill up the SUV, take a vacation, and, if there are any crumbs left on the table, offer pennies to the hungry.” Rather, God clearly gives feeding the hungry top priority on the daily agenda of God’s people rather than fighting terrorism and protecting one’s job security, life insurance, college savings program, or retirement investment.
The News & ObserverThese are difficult times. We pray that our lawmakers and governor will demonstrate compassion for our fellow North Carolinians who need food, clothing, health care and shelter and for the many charitable nonprofit organizations that provide this support.
The Fayetteville ObserverSam Thompson was looking for a sunny spot to plant tomatoes. He ended up leading an award-winning community revolution. Thompson, an elder at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church, pitched the idea of a community garden to the church six years ago. What began as a creative use for otherwise empty church property was recently awarded an equipment grant by the North Carolina Council of Churches and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “We’re using the grant funds to dig a well,” Thompson said. “Wouldn’t you know this would be the wettest June in years.”
Winston-Salem ChronicleThe Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation has partnered with the North Carolina Council of Churches to provide grants to faith-based organizations to help them supply healthy eating alternatives to their members and underserved communities.
United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (UMMBC) is one of 20 faith-based organizations that have received a $5,000 Healthy Eating Equipment Grant. The church will use the grant to purchase much needed equipment and supplies to support the 10 gardens that now comprise the S.G. Atkins Community Gardens at Winston-Salem State University.
Mt. Airy NewsPiney Grove Baptist Church’s food ministries recently got a boost from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC) in the form of a $5,000 healthy eating equipment grant. The effort is a partnership between BCBSNC and the North Carolina Council of Churches to provide equipment for 20 faith-based organizations to bring healthier food to their members and communities. More than $90,000 in equipment grants are being used to provide canning and cooking supplies, expand church community gardens and increase storage for fresh produce.
Volunteer Ed Ablard and I discussed the work and mission of NCIPL, as well as the wonderful evening Ed organized at his church, St. Paul’s Episcopal. Thank you so much to Ed for arranging this interview; it was a pleasure to be with you and all of our coastal allies this week!
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READ: More evidence showing that life-saving treatment for opioid addiction is available & urgently needed, but federal restrictions are causing barriers to access. #ncpol #ncga #OpioidCrisis twitter.com/Health_A…
Do you think #NC should expand Medicaid? On Thursday, June 6, come hear from 2 legislators who will discuss & share differing perspectives on whether to #CloseTheGapNC. westpreschurch.org/e… pic.twitter.com/yNh6…
RT @RaleighStrike @SierraClub @NCIPL @climateparents @lisahoyos All great action steps. So is joining us May 24th #FridaysForFuture in Raleigh at Halifax Mall from 1-4 to let our leaders know we want them to #actonclimate! @350Triangle @SierraClubNC @CleanAirMoms_NC @ZeroWasteNC #ClimateCrisis
RT @NCIPLYL Rishi Ranabothu recently met with Michelle and amazing and the energetic staff at @ncchurches and @NCIPL Raleigh office after interview with @YES_forum. They took time off their schedule to greet me and I look forward to meeting them again at future events! #faithinaction pic.twitter.com/gSOk…
RT @ClimateReality With new temperature records being set each year, droughts and floods getting ever-more intense and more frequent, and sea levels rising, for many millennials, the climate crisis is becoming a deciding factor in whether to have children. nbcnews.to/2E1x7hK
RT @DalaiLama Honest concern for others is the key factor in improving our day to day lives. When you are warm-hearted, there is no room for anger, jealousy or insecurity. Healthy, happy families and a healthy peaceful nation are dependent on warm-heartedness.
RT @evanlweber How many U.S. Senators have read the IPCC report? Any scientific paper about climate change at all? A climate change book? The most powerful people in the country know next to nothing about the true magnitude and severity of an existential crisis facing human civilization.