ELCA World Hunger leaders passionate about ending hunger, poverty

Showing a passion and commitment toward eliminating hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, ELCA members are on the front lines of this church’s efforts to raise awareness, multiply ministry and increase advocacy efforts.

At the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering July 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa, more than 70 hunger leaders from across the ELCA’s 65 synods met to share ideas and discuss ways to increase their capacity in helping to eradicate hunger and poverty.

“By sharing our ideas, the effect we can have through our volunteer network is multiplied,” said Mikka McCracken, program director for ELCA World Hunger constituent engagement and interpretation. “The work and mission of ELCA World Hunger depends on individuals, congregations and synods throughout this church. ELCA World Hunger leaders are often on the forefront of inspiring, engaging, leading and truly multiplying those efforts. We are so thankful for their tireless work and vision.”

Under the theme “Loaves and Fishes: Multiplying for Mission,” participants attended sessions geared toward enhancing hunger advocacy that is already being carried out by the leaders in their congregations and neighborhoods.

“They invite others into our common work and service together. From coordinating local food pantries and hosting hunger awareness meals to advocating for better child nutrition policies and hosting hunger education events, ELCA World Hunger leaders share the story of the ELCA’s work to eradicate hunger and poverty,” said McCracken.

Participants also had the opportunity to learn about food security and sustainable farming practices from Iowa-based scientists and researchers, including a keynote speech by Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, head of the World Food Prize located in Des Moines. The prize, founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Norman Borlaug, recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of those who improve the world food supply.

“Building a network of leaders who understand and who can communicate the work of ELCA (World) Hunger in the areas of relief, education, advocacy and development strengthens the ability of this church to respond generously and effectively to the needs of a hungry world,” said the Rev. Paul D. Ostrem, assistant to the bishop, ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod. The synod hosted the event.

Ostrem says these opportunities are important because they “help participants understand the ways that partnerships among nonprofits, business interests, educational institutions and research entities build capacity for food production and distribution throughout the world and will give opportunities to reflect on both the opportunities and the challenges new technologies may bring to the church and the world.” 

“We were pleased to be hosted by the Southeastern Iowa Synod,” said Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “In many ways the Lutheran church in this country has its roots on the farm. To see some of what is shaping the production of food and the important connection to lives and livelihoods is a gift.”

ELCA World Hunger works to address the root causes of poverty and hunger through a comprehensive approach of relief, education, advocacy and development. For more information on how to become a hunger leader or connect with a synod team, email ELCA World Hunger at hunger@elca.org.

ELCA Foundation enters into partnership with Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest

The ELCA Foundation has entered into a partnership with the Texas-based Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest, an agreement considered to be historic for enhancing the financial ministries of the ELCA.

“I’m excited for the expanded capacity this partnership will bring to both Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest and the ELCA Foundation in strengthening our ability to serve the wider church,” said Annette Shoemaker, director for the ELCA Foundation. The ELCA Foundation offers gift planning and endowment services that support the church’s partners, churchwide ministries, synods and congregations. 

“When two strong Lutheran entities combine to work together, the impact is huge for the Lutheran community,” said Mark Armstrong, interim executive director for the Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest. “It opens up endless possibilities and resources that better allow us to assist Lutherans in their dreams and goals of stewardship gifts to Lutheran agencies, which in turn allows these Lutheran agencies to further carry out their dreams of helping and assisting Lutherans through their programs and ultimately strengthening the overall church.”

With this partnership the ELCA Foundation will add a regional gift planner to the Southwest foundation staff, extending service to all three ELCA synods in the state — Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, Southwestern Texas Synod and Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. 

“I’m excited about this new spirit of partnership. I believe this will increase our capability to grow generosity, and support synodical and churchwide ministry,” said the Rev. Michael W. Rinehart, bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.

“It is a very historic time in the life of Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest,” said Armstrong. “Our work has been akin to a pebble being thrown into a pond, and we watch as our work creates ripples radiating out across the pond. Now with this partnership, the ripples will be stronger, radiating out farther. The pond is now a lake.”