I love things that are good. This gets complicated when one may ask when something is good, is it right? Another may say, who cares if it is good, we want it to be the best!
During the last few weeks in April, I had the chance to travel in Texas with ELCA World Hunger Director Dan Rift visiting pastors, congregations and donors. My travel lasted nearly two weeks from Austin to Fredericksburg to Houston to San Antonio and Dallas. (I drove this route and will have to consider reconciling the carbon footprint left there).
Popular topics during our visits:
- Issues of water during times of flooding and drought (remember Texas had 100 days of 100+ degree temperatures last year)
- An abundance of wild game in Texas as a possible source of food
- Accompaniment with the companion churches in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone
- Issues related to immigrants and refugees in areas of the US and Mexico border
- Supporting women and girls for employment and education
- Celebrating the multi-cultural mission of the ELCA and new congregations such as Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria de Guadalupe inIrving
- When all are fed, how do we care for the capacity of the earth?
It’s all good!
It is so great to work for ELCA World Hunger, to be in conversation with many individuals and groups about the issues of hunger and poverty in the US and around the world and to encourage how we live and what we can do to make a difference. There is power when we can work together to discuss topics and provide opportunities for engagement. ELCA World Hunger then relies on the leadership of our pastors and synod hunger leaders to keep these issues in front of ELCA members and to understand that we organize a response and action through our church. The financial support and giving that result provide the energy and funding for action and partnership through programs in nearly 60 countries on an annual basis.
But is it right?
There is an incredible dynamic in how each of us is at a different point in our lives and at a different place in learning – in particular about and around the issues we promote through ELCA World Hunger. It is easiest to come together as a group with shared values and interests and giving to similar organizations, but it is a strange ideal. We all have different experiences and strengths, and it is those differences that allow us to bring unique leadership, ideas and understanding when joining a cause or movement.
Our priorities for programs and grants through ELCA congregations and synods, companion churches and partners rely on local, in-country leadership, relationship and expertise. We model our efforts according to accompaniment. ELCA World Hunger funds support local economies. Project requests come to us from the communities that are served. This methodology is not always perfect, but relationships move forward to the primary objective of sustainable development for the livelihood of communities out of hunger and poverty. ELCA World Hunger is a program of learning, action, and giving to make a difference in so many ways. All are invited into this experience and journey.
We want to be the best!
The ELCA emphasized World Malaria Day on April 25 and is well into the ELCA Malaria Campaign to support essential malaria health services and practices in 11 countries through our companion church relationships. The campaign aims to raise a minimum $15 million to support these country plans and dramatically reduce occurrence and death by malaria by 2015. Not everyone agrees on our explanation or methodology or program scope or financial goals, but the encouragement is that so many are listening, voicing points of view, and considering how they will act. This is such a poignant moment in the life of our church, for each of us in the ways we live our faith, and in the ways we are active within our world.
Jesus told us to feed the hungry, give to the poor, befriend the stranger and love our neighbor. This is the personal, compassionate and very doable call to each of us, and I especially love it when the call brings us back to this center.
Good, Right and Best – participating in these efforts through ELCA World Hunger creates a lot of opportunities and experiences for each of us. Thank you for your efforts and encouragement.
Sharon Magnuson, Associate Director — ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal