From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:18:51


                         TO COMBAT HUNGER 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
WASHINGTON--Hunger program officials from eight denominations have issued a 
statement urging greater efforts to stem the rising tide of hunger in the 
     The group's statement was released following a late May meeting here. 
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was represented by Gwen Crawley, associate 
director for global service and witness in the Worldwide Ministries 
Division, and Diane Hockenberry, associate for hunger education and 
resourcing in the Presbyterian Hunger Program, an agency of the Worldwide 
Ministries Division. 
     Other denominations represented included the United Methodist Church, 
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, 
the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., the Christian Reformed Church 
in North America, the Reformed Church in America and the Episcopal Church. 
     The text of the statement: 
     "We believe this world belongs to God, that God loves all people, and 
that the God of Old and New Testaments expresses particular compassion for 
people who are hungry and poor. 
     "We believe hunger is a tragedy.  It is a result of human sin, of 
chronic poverty, of greed, of violence, of unevenly divided resources, of 
family disintegration, of historical discrimination. 
     "We believe hunger and poverty must not be ignored, or swept under the 
rug, or casually tolerated, or fatalistically accepted.  Poor and hungry 
people are people; they are sister and brother human beings with strengths 
and weaknesses.  They are (or were) in our families, in our churches, in 
our neighborhoods and communities.  They are part of us.  They must not 
become political footballs in today's contentious climate.  We believe 
hunger in the United States is a particular tragedy because of the wealth 
and power of this great country. 
     "We believe the driving force for change needs to be addressing 
poverty, alleviating poverty, ending poverty.  We believe it is 
unacceptable for the driving force to be punishing poor people for not 
voting or to be unthinkingly cutting assistance programs for the sake of 
cutting somewhere. 
     "We believe it is of critical importance to listen to poor people and 
to the private and public organizations that have long histories of working 
with and for poor people.  Poor people have the most to win or lose.  And 
they have ideas, concerns and strategies for change that need to be 
seriously considered.  We believe it intolerable that major changes would 
be made in the welfare system or in food assistance programs without first 
thoroughly consulting with poor people themselves. 
     "We believe in open discussion and energetic debate.  Fervent, even 
strong disagreements in strategy and philosophy can be signs of health and 
vitality.  Passion and even anger are signs of taking hunger and poverty 
seriously.  They are signs of life and concern and responsibility.  Not 
caring about the lives of women and children living in poverty is far more 
troublesome than energetic debate over the most appropriate caring roles of 
federal government and state government. 
     "We believe God is neither Republican or Democrat.  We believe God is 
at work and present in and with all parties and sectors and that God stands 
in judgment of them all.  Truth and insight are not the private or special 
possessions of any one party or ideology.  We believe the great issues and 
challenges of today require forms of shared insight and shared truth. 
Insight and truth are both nonpartisan and bipartisan. 
     "We believe all sectors of society have responsibilities in addressing 
the needs of poor and hungry people.  Churches, businesses, federal 
government, state government, local government are all involved.  No one 
sector is enemy, no one part is savior.  We believe God holds all to be 
accountable in some way, shape or form.  We should neither expect too much 
nor too little from each part.  Each sector has a role to play, a gift to 
share, a responsibility to exercise.  One of the great tasks for today is 
wisely identifying these particular roles, gifts and responsibilities. 
     "We believe the United States has a responsibility to share some of 
its resources with poor and hungry people in other parts of the world.  We 
believe the United States must consider hunger and poverty abroad as 
threats to its own security and to global security.  A safer world means a 
less hungry and less poor world.  We believe it is counterproductive to pit 
international needs against needs at home. Both need to be addressed.  This 
is a time of both/and, not either/or.  We believe God holds together the 
local and the global.  We believe God -- and the rest of the world -- is 
carefully watching how the United States will use its immense power and 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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