As of next week we will bid farewell to our summer interns. They are a talented group and contributed greatly to the ELCA World Hunger Team. We wish Colleen, Kristyn, and Louis well and thank them for their partnership and work.
As I reflect on my summer internship with ELCA World Hunger, there are several lessons I will take with me; however, there is one thing I would like to share with all of you before I leave.
Despite being raised and deeply engaged in a Lutheran church in Minnesota, it was only this summer that I learned about the incredible things that the Lutheran Church (in the larger sense) is doing to address poverty and hunger domestically and internationally. Although I attempted to comprehend the approach and methods of ELCA World Hunger before the summer, it has been a remarkable experience to hear staff members describe the accompaniment model (www.elca.org/accompaniment) as the way we do our work. Instead of going into communities in need and proclaiming what is best for them, accompaniment describes us as building relationships and working with people rather than over them. While many people may assume the Church works in a way that does things to communities or for communities (both of these approaches not utilizing or valuing local knowledge and skill), that is not the reality of how we are responding to hunger and poverty. Rather, the Lutheran Church works with congregations and other partner organizations to help communities lift themselves out of poverty. How great is that?!
For someone who entered this summer feeling annoyed by the drama and gossip that can occur in small town Lutheran churches, I am pleasantly surprised to leave the Churchwide Office of the ELCA with a deeper understanding, appreciation, and excitement for the Church’s work in the world. It’s truly remarkable what we can do when we work together to end hunger and poverty.
With only a few days left of my internship, I thank you for sharing in my blog experience and wish you well as you continue to follow ELCA World Hunger and work to eliminate hunger in this world.
Colleen Peterson is an ELCA World Hunger intern