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!
Join a coalition of organizations that are advocating for 10 demands of the NC General Assembly and Governor to respond to the most vulnerable communities during COVID-19. Visit @united4survival site to sign on. #COVID19 survivalandbeyond.in…
Are you currently pregnant or breastfeeding? @MomsRising wants to hear from YOU about your experience in the midst of the #coronavirus pandemic. Share your story now! #COVID19 #breastfeeding action.momsrising.or…
This Monday morning, hear Elizabeth Brewington, Opioid Response Program Coordinator shares her words of strength and faith that center us around Jesus entering Jerusalem. #COVID19 #strength #faith facebook.com/NorthCa…
This morning Chris Pernell, Partners in Health and Wholeness Director, offered our daily meditation for today. Watch as she shares her words of strength and faith to lead us into the weekend. #COVID19 #strength #faith facebook.com/NorthCa…
Our team across #NC has put together a video of our tips for maintaining physical, mental, & spiritual health during #COVID19. You are not alone, we are in this together. May this video nourish your soul and bring you peace. bit.ly/2XeEop1 #COVID19NC #health #faith
Elizabeth Brewington, Opioid Response Program Coordinator, led us on day 15 of Words of Strength and Faith reflecting on Palm Sunday as we enter into Holy Week. Join us again tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. facebook.com/NorthCa… #faith #COVID19 #strength pic.twitter.com/W6Dg…
Congress should investigate the reasons behind @EPAAWheeler’s decision to end all enforcement of environmental laws that came days after big polluters issued a wish list that included relaxing rules about dangerous pollution. thehill.com/policy/e… @NCConservation @SierraClubNC
RT @FireDrillFriday An oil bailout wouldn’t only take billions away from protecting workers, helping people pay bills, and caring for the sick — it would give billions to the architects of the climate crisis. It would use one crisis to exacerbate another. #NoBigOilBailout weforum.org/agenda/2…
RT @lizwathuti #ClimateStrikeOnline because the climate can't wait! This is week 16 from Nairobi,Kenya🇰🇪. If we don't act fast, we will be equally extinct! ACTION and ADVOCACY will flip the script and change the ending of our story!🌎 @Fridays4future @GretaThunberg @vanessa_vash @350 @Purpose pic.twitter.com/GfY0…