Peace church puts anti-hunger cash where its resolution is

By staff writers
19 Jan 2007

A half-million US dollars to counter world hunger, and to give substance to a commitment the UN Millennium Development Goals, was raised in 2006 by the Global Food Crisis Fund and the growing projects it spawned through the Foods Resource Bank - reports the Church of the Brethren, an Anabaptist denomination which sponsors the anti-poverty work.

The effort was marked by several firsts, exppalined Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer, including the "REGNUH ... Turning Hunger Around" campaign of senior high youth and senior adults, and a doubling of the number and acreage of local growing projects for the Foods Resource Bank.

Giving to the Global Food Crisis Fund topped 318,000 US dollars in 2006. Of this amount, approximately 100,000 dollras came from the REGNUH campaign of the denomination's National Youth Conference that featured tithing, a run/walk, and hunger education and worship components. The fund was further supported through "My 2 Cents Worth" offerings of congregations, churchwide art and hunger auctions, vacation Bible school and camping projects, and individual donor gifts.

Fourteen Church of the Brethren growing projects, some engaging partner churches of other denominations, raised over 200,000 US dollars for investing in Foods Resource Bank agricultural programmes in economically poor countries, in the 2006 preliminary accounting.

First-time growing projects were launched by Brethren in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, and - gearing up for the winter wheat harvest in 2007 - Kansas. Other sponsors in 2006 were the first Brethren camp to take part, Camp Mack in Indiana, and the first Brethren retirement community to participate, Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

If the additional donations of Brethren to such efforts as the denomination's Emergency Disaster Fund, Church World Service/CROP, Heifer International, SERRV, America's Second Harvest, Bread for the World, and other hunger- and poverty-focussed endeavours are taken into account, the level of giving would likely be tripled, commented Royer. "Brethren have a passion for reaching out to the world's poor and vulnerable," he said.

"A significant initiative of the church last summer was the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by Annual Conference," added Royer. "But more significant still is that the Church of the Brethren did not just sign on to the goals to reduce poverty and hunger; its response reveals Brethren sense deeply the call of Christ to feed the hungry and to work toward a healthier and more just world."

Both the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Foods Resource Bank issue grants that enable partner agencies in underdeveloped countries to launch sustainable, community-based agriculture. The grants currently support work in two-dozen countries.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund, see: www.brethren.org/genbd/global_mission/gfcf.htm.

The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination "committed to continuing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its faith in community." The denomination is rooted in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith traditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches - along with Mennonites and Quakers. It celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2008 and counts about 130,000 members across the United States and Puerto Rico.

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