From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ELCA Synod Hunger Leaders Focus on World Issues
News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Tue, 6 Aug 2002 16:44:37 -0500
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 6, 2002
ELCA SYNOD HUNGER LEADERS FOCUS ON WORLD ISSUES
HICKORY, N.C. (ELCA) -- About 190 Lutherans committed to ending
hunger globally and domestically convened July 17-19 for the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) World Hunger Synod Leadership
Gathering at Lenoir-Rhyne College, one of 28 colleges and universities
of the ELCA. The meeting brought together representatives of 50 of the
ELCA's 65 synods.
The gathering, held in conjunction with an ELCA Global Mission
Event, focused on ideas for eradicating hunger, working with domestic
hunger and poverty issues, and the Stand With Africa campaign -- a
three-year Lutheran campaign of the ELCA, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
(LCMS), and Lutheran World Relief (LWR), that focuses on banishing
hunger and building peace in sub-Saharan Africa. Thirty-five youth also
participated in youth track and World Hunger sessions during the three-
Sister Judith Bukambu, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania,
spoke on poverty, AIDS orphans and the reality of the current AIDS
epidemic in Africa.
"HIV/AIDS is a reality. To many of you, HIV/AIDS is a myth. Where
I come from, even a two-year-old kid has tasted the effects of AIDS,"
Sister Bukambu also talked about the challenge in educating her
people about AIDS, because communication in Tanzania is difficult.
"A small percentage of people [in Tanzania] have access to
television," said Bukambu. "Several people in communities have radios,
but they do not have enough money to buy batteries. Therefore, giving
people information is not easy."
AIDS is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa,
according to Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). An
estimated 2.3 million people died of AIDS in 2001. This means 6,000
people died of AIDS each day, a planeload each hour, and four people
Overcoming HIV/AIDS is a part of the Stand With Africa campaign.
As Stand With Africa enters its second year, the campaign's focus turns
Lita Brusick Johnson, director of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal,
reiterated the appeal's goal of doubling the income from $12.5 million
to $25 million by 2005. Johnson said that there is "good and there is
bad news for 2002."
"Giving has increased to $16.5 million, but the number of
congregations participating has plateaud," said Johnson.
According to Johnson, the number of congregations participating in
giving is 7,200, down from a peak in 1992 at more than 8,000. That
leaves more than 3,000 congregations in the United States that have not
In addition to hearing keynote presentations, the gathering was
also a time for forming strategies on fund raising and why some synods
and congregations are not participating in the World Hunger Appeal
program. A discussion among participants brought forth some reasons,
including: priority for local issues, individual pastor choices,
priority for missionaries and a general distrust in the larger church
Three North Carolina ministries presented how they are helping
local domestic hunger needs through World Hunger funds. Eloise Kaeck,
Messiah of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Greenmountain, N.C., spoke on
how the congregation used a "seed grant" to help integrate their work
with the local community.
"This money will be loaned to someone who will in turn better his
or her condition. This includes education and small business
opportunities," said Kaeck.
Lutheran Services for the Aging and Helping Empower Local People
John Arnold, Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of Western
Michigan, Comstock Park, presented research on food banks in a
workshop. His research was conducted in conjunction with Michigan State
"Overcoming hunger in the United States is achievable," said
Arnold. "Dealing with hunger is like playing chess in that there are
similar playing pieces. Hunger keeps winning because it plays its pieces
better. What you have to do is question -- are you playing your pieces
better than hunger?"
Arnold has proposed some recommendations for changing the approach
communities use when combating hunger. Recommendations include making
sure enough agencies are distributing food to the economics of replacing
food drives with fund drives.
Other workshop topics ranged from the process of domestic hunger
grants to offering advice on Africa travel.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, talked with
participants about what they can do to help the church see hunger and
poverty issues more clearly.
"I think of you in this room as marathon runners and the church as
sprinters. We need to train sprinters in the race to end hunger," he
The Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Jordan (and Palestine), expressed thanks for aid received from the
World Hunger Appeal. He spoke of some injustices placed upon
Palestinian people and how education is being affected drastically by
Israeli occupation in Palestinian-populated areas.
"Israeli occupation is a sin against God and humanity. We are
people who are searching for justice," said Younan. "We want our
children to enjoy what your children are enjoying. We want nothing
Younan talked about the importance of education and how this has
been hindered in past months. According to Younan, Lutheran schools
educate one-sixth of the student population in Palestine despite the
fact that Christians make up only two percent of the entire population.
"We must empower our people to get an education, to be advocates
for their own causes. They can only do this through education," he said.
Younan also spoke at the ELCA Global Mission Event (GME), which
was held in conjunction with the World Hunger Gathering. A GME is an
annual gathering of congregations, families and youth working together
to celebrate the mission of the church around the world.
"It was an experiment to link the two events. It seemed to work
with people who would have learned a lot more than in a single event,"
said Stephen H. Padre, associate director for Internal Communication,
ELCA Department for Communication.
The Rev. John L. Halvorson, ELCA World Hunger Program coordinator,
said the event was fitting for this year.
"I think it was a very good idea to do this year, because of the
convergence of themes, particularly because of Stand With Africa in its
second year and current Middle East issues," said Halvorson.
Next year's World Hunger Gathering will be held July 19-22 in
Winnipeg, Canada, in conjunction with the Lutheran World Federation's
Tenth assembly held July 21-31.
* Jenny Davidson is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin,
and Nathan Kerl is a junior at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. Both
are interns this summer at the ELCA churchwide offices in Chicago.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG
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