(May 22, 2007) — Church of the Brethren leaders and General Board staff are taking part in preparations for a biennial hunger training event and rally to be held in Washington, D.C., on June 9-12. The Gathering on the theme, “Sowing Seeds: Growing a Movement,” is sponsored by Bread for the World and supported by a wide range of hunger agencies.
A broad spectrum of religious groups will convene in the nation’s capital for training, information sharing, worship, and advocacy. Particular focus will be on reform of the Farm Bill currently before Congress, a legislative measure whose nutrition programs and trade policies affect the poor and hungry at home and abroad.
The event is receiving financial support from the Global Food Crisis Fund. A $5,000 grant has been given toward expenses of the conference.
Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer is among those working with Bread for the World staff in helping plan the conference, and is one of the group of Interfaith Anti-Hunger Coordinators. The Brethren Witness/Washington Office also is encouraging participation in the event. Belita Mitchell, Annual Conference moderator, and Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the General Board, are slated to head the Brethren delegation.
Pastor Jeff Carter of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is representing the denomination on the Worship Planning Committee, and has been invited to help plan the interfaith convocation that will take place at the National Cathedral on Monday evening, June 11. Carter also will be involved in moderating plenary sessions. Building on models he has experienced in the World Council of Churches arena, where he has represented the Church of the Brethren, Carter “is striving to see that worship is not a side trip, but integral all through the events,” Royer reported.
Emily O’Donnell, legislative associate and Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, has been named to the Program/Mobilization Committee for the Gathering. She is involved in promoting the event among Brethren young adults and the Washington area congregations.
“We rejoice in the direct ways the Church of the Brethren is engaged in hunger awareness and advocacy on the national scene,” Royer said. “From its beginning the Global Food Crisis Fund has regarded hunger education and advocacy as integral to its work, along with fundraising and grantmaking on behalf of impoverished peoples. The provision of study and action resources and awareness-raising events remains a high priority.”
The goal of the Gathering “is to formulate concrete steps to strengthen efforts to end hunger and poverty, in synch with the Millennium Development Goals,” Royer said. “Participants are to emerge from the Gathering renewed, energized, equipped, and empowered.”
In a related Action Alert, the Brethren Witness/Washington Office has called for support of a letter regarding the Farm Bill. The letter is being sent to members of Congress. It highlights the reauthorization of the Farm Bill as “a significant opportunity to improve farmworker safety and health, particularly as to toxic pesticides and expanded research on farmworker health and safety,” and lists a number of provisions for inclusion in the bill related to the use of pesticides and health effects for farmworkers and their families. For a copy of the letter, contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, 337 N. Carolina Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003; 800-785-3246; firstname.lastname@example.org.
An additional Action Alert focused on the Feed America’s Families Act (H.R. 2129) that the alert said would “build momentum for 2007 Farm Bill investments that strengthen the Food Stamp and emergency feeding programs.” The alert called for support from Brethren, saying that “time is of the essence” with Congressional action on the 2007 Farm Bill beginning with at least one House Agriculture Subcommittee taking up its portion of the bill before the Memorial Day recess. Full House and Senate Agriculture Committee mark-ups are slated for June.
Feeding America’s Families Act “would make a significant difference for families facing a constant struggle against hunger by improving access to the Food Stamp Program, increasing the adequacy of food stamp benefits, and bolstering the emergency food assistance system. It would invest $20 billion in new five-year spending for anti-hunger priorities,” the alert said.
For more information about the Gathering, “Sowing Seeds: Growing a Movement” and to register to attend, go to www.bread.org/about-us/national-gathering.