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ELCA World Hunger

New! Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith


We know that ending hunger will take more than food. Addressing climate change is a critical step in this work. That’s why ELCA World Hunger is excited to share a new opportunity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary’s Center for Climate Justice and Faith. The Center’s work focuses on helping leaders learn about sustainability, caring for creation and working for justice so that all can enjoy the abundance of God’s creation.

This Center’s new Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith offers a cohort-based, online trans-continental curriculum which empowers participants to cultivate moral, spiritual, and practical power for leadership in the work of climate justice in communities of faith and in collaboration with others.  Topics covered include theology, ethics, and spirituality; climate change knowledge; and social change practices that connect ecological well-being with racial, economic, and gender justice.

Lay and rostered leaders throughout the Lutheran World Federation communion and from other faith traditions are invited to complete an interest form if you are curious to know more about this inaugural, non-degree learning program scheduled for September 2021 – May 2022.  Long-term collaboration and networking are expected to endure well beyond certificate completion date.

Applications are now open and will be accepted until June 15, 2021. To apply or to learn more, visit




Get Ready for World Food Day – October 16, 2016




World Food Day is a day of action against hunger.

On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

Each year, people around the world mark World Food Day as a special occasion to take action, learn more and join together to fight hunger.  World Food Day 2016 falls on a Sunday, giving Christians concerned about hunger a special opportunity to worship, pray and serve together.  Below are some suggestions for actions your congregation can take.


ELCA World Hunger supports projects in nearly 60 countries, including the United States. These projects include job training programs, food pantries, agricultural training, health promotion and care, and much more. Together, our Church accompanies communities around the world toward a world of justice where all will be fed.  Prayerfully consider supporting ELCA World Hunger with your gifts.  Visit to make a gift.

World Food Day 2016 is on Sunday October 16.  Use the occasion to host a special offering for ELCA World Hunger in your congregation.  Order posters and envelopes at You can also use a blessing like the one below to dedicate your offerings to the work God is doing through the ELCA.

Blessing of Offering

Abundant God, all creation displays your goodness.  For the hungry, you provide food.  For the thirsty, you give water.  To the wandering, you promise a home.  You have blessed us with your gifts that we may be your hands and feet to share these gifts with our neighbors.  Bless these offerings, that they may be signs of your grace in our world.  As we share with others, keep us mindful of our own need – for food, water, shelter, and community.  May our gifts be an invitation to deeper relationship with each other and with you. In the name of Jesus Christ, your gift to the world, Amen.


Last year, ELCA Advocacy, Lutherans across the Church and ecumenical and interfaith partners across the US joined together to advocate for the Global Food Security Act. After long months of advocacy and policy negotiations, the Global Food Security Act is now a law. Together with partners, ELCA Advocacy worked tirelessly on this legislation for nearly two years, and we are grateful to see that all our prayerful efforts have led to this moment. The Global Food Security Act means the U.S. will be better equipped to combat food insecurity around the world. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVOCACY!

But our work is far from over. Sign up for e-advocacy alerts at to learn more about the important work of ELCA Advocacy and to be part of a voice for justice for all.


This year’s message for World Food Day is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must, too.”  Host an education event at your church to help others learn more about climate change’s effect on hunger.  You can download a communication toolkit, posters and other resources from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations here: .

To learn more about projects supported by ELCA World Hunger that are responding to a changing climate, read “Three Ways ‘The Poor’ and Communities of Faith Are Leading the Way on Climate Change” on Huffington

Also, check out these resources from ELCA World Hunger and our partners:

Rooted in God’s Word and Lands: A Celebration of the Earth That Nourishes Us

This resource from Creation Justice Ministries encourages Christians to treat land as the special gift that it is.  It has ideas for sermons, Sunday School activities, and adult study and contemplation exercises. Download it for free at

Sustainable Food in a Changing Climate

This 2015 resource from Creation Justice Ministries offers prayers and liturgies for worship, ideas for educational programs, and suggestions for personal food choices that raise awareness about and encourage action toward sustainable choices about the foods we eat.  Download it for free at

Just Climate: Study Guide for Adult Christian Education

Creation Justice Ministries’ popular 2008 resource is as relevant today as it was when it was first released.  This three-session study guide is perfect for audiences new to studying climate change.  It has discussion and reflection questions, a leader’s guide to the issues, and fact sheets on several countries to help your group see the concrete effects of climate change around the world and in the United States. Download it for free at

Care of Creation Lectionary Reflections

Lutherans Restoring Creation offers an online archive of commentaries on the Revised Common Lectionary that is perfect for developing a sermon, a children’s sermon, or an educational forum.  The archive can be found at

Hunger and Climate Change Connections Toolkit

ELCA World Hunger’s toolkits are easy-to-use, adaptable for a variety of settings and suitable for intergenerational audiences.  The activities can take as little as 15 minutes, or as much as one hour, depending on your needs.  Learn about climate-related disasters, the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations and actions your congregation can take.  Download this toolkit at

Hunger and Climate Change: Agriculture and Food Security in a Changing Climate

From biofuels to gender justice, from political stability to farming in the United States, this fact sheet from the ELCA highlights the wide-ranging effects of climate change.  With ideas for what your congregation can do to support farmers and others impacted by climate change, this fact sheet is perfect for Lutherans concerned about agriculture and hunger.  Download it at

Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice

The ELCA’s social statement on care for creation, adopted in 1993, remains an important reflection on our role as stewards in God’s world.  Read it here:


Host a Hunger potluck or banquet after worship services to highlight the challenge of hunger in our world. Read how congregations in Ohio used “Potlucks to End World Hunger” to  support ELCA World Hunger and projects around the world –

The Oxfam America Hunger Banquet is a memorable, interactive event that brings hunger and poverty issues to life. Hunger Banquets have been going strong for nearly 40 years and can be a meaningful way to learn more about the challenges we and our neighbors face in a world of hunger – and what we can all do to change it.  Learn more at


When Lutherans pray for “daily bread,” Martin Luther reminds us that we are asking God for all of the needs we have each and every day, from food to shelter, from healthy families to good government.  This Fall, help your family remember these good gifts of God with free table blessing magnets from ELCA World Hunger.  Order for your family or congregation by emailing


Climate Change Again


This picture was taken in January, 16 months after Hurricane Felix. The communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua are still struggling to recover. Scientists predict that should the globe continue to warm, we can expect fiercer and more frequent storms.

I guess I should not have been surprised when Palin came out and denied climate change.  This of course led to a delightful response from Al Gore.  And the blogosphere rejoiced…

So with the Copenhagen meetings climate change is a big topic of conversation.   To kick of the summit, the results of a recent poll were announced in which it was found that fewer Americans believe in climate change than did just six months ago (a fifteen point shift in just six months).  Coincidentally, I was speaking with a climatologist from Iowa State this past weekend, and I asked him if all the recent scientific reports (such as the 2005 IPCC report that unequivocally stated that climate change is indeed happening and 2007 IPCC report that stated that human produced carbon emissions play a role in it) have helped in shifting public opinion.  He told me it’s actually brought more people out to challenge it, especially from energy sectors.

I won’t delve into the discussion, you already know my thinking on it from here and here.  While I appreciate the public debate (I just wish it was more often based on facts instead of ideology, on both sides), I want us to think more about those who are poor and vulnerable (like this story on NPR this morning).  Often the debate is about protecting self-interests–energy consumption and energy independence, national security, economic strength, and so on.  While these are important issues, and may be excellent motivators to actually get something done, I think we fail to see that this is fundamentally a justice issue.  Those who are least responsible for climate change bear the brunt of its impact. They suffer from new disease vectors, fiercer and more frequent storms, changing weather patterns that disrupt crop cycles, among other things.  (For more on the impacts, see our Climate Change and Hunger Toolkit–a ready to go “program in a box” you can use to lead a forum or discussion on the issue.)

In short, whatever the case is about climate change, this topic also gives us a chance to talk about hunger and poverty, and our role in addressing them.  While it is inevitable that our own interests inform our commitment to any issue, I would hope that we can remember those who are on the front lines, those who are poorest and most vulnerable.

Images of climate change

Someone recently asked me why, working in the field of world hunger, I was going to a conference on environmental justice. It’s not always an obvious connection, that between hunger and climate change. But a main reason ELCA World Hunger is concerned about climate change is that the poorest have the fewest resources to adapt and cope. The most vulnerable are at the greatest risk of suffering and hunger. If the rains don’t come as often anymore and your crop doesn’t grow, how will you eat? If the strangely frequent and severe storms damage your house, do you spend your small income on shelter or food?

But a picture is worth a thousand words, right? So check out this site:  It’s from the BBC and includes a picture of the globe with video clips from different countries, each one showing an impact of environmental strain and change. In particular, I found the clips from Bolivia, Egypt, and Iraq especially useful for clarifying how changing water supplies impact human life. The clips don’t directly connect the environmental issues to hunger, but they take you close enough to make the final hop an easy one.

In recognition of what’s happening in Copenhagen right now, watch some of the clips. And then, with your new-found inspiration, hold a workshop in your congregation or community to spread the word about how climate and hunger are related. The workshop materials and instructions are ready and waiting for you at  We invite and welcome your voice in the fight against hunger!

-Nancy Michaelis


For those of you who have been reading my posts for awhile, you probably are well aware of my proclivity towards idealism. Working for ELCA World Hunger has tempered that tendency a bit but I still find myself drifting too frequently towards the ideal (fortunately my colleague Nancy Michaelis balances me out a bit!).

At Ecumenical Advocacy Days I realized how the ideal could be a real hindrance to addressing hunger and poverty. Our ask to Congress was threefold: 1) To follow the recommendations of the scientific community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (20-40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050); 2) To protect those who are living in poverty, here and abroad, from the impacts of climate change; and 3) To consider the impacts of climate change on migration when drafting the legislation.

In all of these requests, idealism can be hindrance to movement forward. For example, if I understand correctly, cap and trade legislation is not the ideal solution to climate change. Europe has had a cap and trade system in place for a number of years and it has not yielded the results promised. One of my companions from the Nicaragua study trip, Peter Metcalf (who is studying the environment in a graduate program at the University of Montana), suggested that a carbon tax would be more effective. In the U.S., however, cap and trade has some political legs, and if anything is going to get done, it will probably be cap and trade. So do we aim for the ideal or do we just try to get something (anything!) done?

When I met with my congressman’s staffer, I could tell that she was not interested in the last two components of the ask. I know that climate change legislation will help those who are vulnerable, but I would like to see more efforts to help them. So do I support my congressman who will get something (anything!) done or do I pressure for more?

At Senator Durbin’s office, his legislative director was very amenable to our ask. “But,” he said, “you know we’ll need to get at least five or six Republicans on board with us?” Compromise. Bleck.

Now, I realize that I have very limited power when it comes to the workings of Congress. In reality, my opinion about things matters very little when it comes to decisions our government makes. I can support my congressman or not, he will still make his vote that does not take into account those who are poor and vulnerable. My senator, who is the number two man in the Senate, is subject to forces beyond his control. The ideal must be sacrificed for something (anything!) to be enacted.

I think this can happen in our attempts to be responsible citizens and compassionate people as well. I know it happens in my life all the time (I just had a great discussion with my wife about how we could conserve more water–strangely, I was all about the little things and she was pushing for drastic changes).

The real question I’m learning to ask is what is the balance between the ideal and what already is. What can a realistically seek to accomplish without setting the bar too low? How can I make sure that the ideal does not keep me from being an advocate with and on behalf of those who are poor and vulnerable? Any thoughts?

David Creech

On My Way Home

I am in the airport waiting for my flight back to the United States. My experience down here in Nicaragua has energized me for my work and given me new perspective on the challenges we face. I am sure that more stories and pictures and reflections from the trip will continue to find expression on this blog.

For now, I’d like to leave you with a Bible verse that our hosts gave us for reflection to open and close our trip. Genesis 8:22 reads, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” There is a rhythm to life and that rhythm is being interrupted. We are called to care for the earth. The issue is pressing–creation groans waiting for redemption and those who are poorest and hungriest already feel the impact. May we find the courage to accompany those who are marginalized, to do God’s work with our hands.

“Thanks for the tarps.”

img_2342-782913I just returned from the Atlantic coast, where we visited two communities impacted by Hurricane Felix in September of 2007. The experience was, to say the least, heart wrenching. On the NW coast, in spite of the poverty we saw, I had the sense that there was possibility for adaptation. The dry spells could be countered by digging wells, creating irrigation systems, and so forth. With good planning and an infusion of resources, the insecurities brought about by the changing weather patterns could be mitigated.

However, in the communities on the Atlantic coast devastated by Felix, the situation is far more complex. It is much more difficult to adapt to the buzz saw of a category five hurricane. A very similar situation is New Orleans post-Katrina (which by the time the hurricane made landfall it was actually a category three). Even though the U.S. has a very advanced infrastructure, building codes, and abundant resources, parts of New Orleans (such as the Ninth Ward) are still (three and a half years later) in ruins. Even with all our tools and resources, we in the U.S. still cannot fully adapt to a severe storm. In a poor place with limited resources such as Nicaragua, the picture is even bleaker.

One year and four months after Felix, whole communities are still in tatters, lacking basic necessities such as food and shelter. They have also become breeding grounds for diseases like Malaria and Dengue Fever. The situation is dire.

Obviously, relief is a key component to any response (and more of it is still needed on the North Atlantic coast). People need food, drink, and medical care. They need help rebuilding their homes and planting their fields.

But relief aid alone will not be sufficient. Energy and thought and resources must also be directed towards development. In the weeks and months following Hurricane Felix, the community of Santa Marta was sent tarps from USAID to provide temporary shelter. You can see from the picture above how well those have held up. They did not receive much else. Probably the most difficult moment in the whole visit was when the local leader of the community said without a hint of irony or sarcasm, “Gracias por las tarpas (Thank you for the tarps).”

So what does this all mean? First, it is clear to me (and to the people I have visited down here in Nicaragua) that climate change is already impacting people in the Global South. We are not simply talking about the future world that we will pass on to our children. Right now, today, we need to work to curb greenhouse gases, at both a personal and corporate level. Second, we need to rethink how we do aid (Bread for the World has made aid reform a key theme in 2009, see Let’s get to work!
Be sure to check out the other blogs chronicling our time down here: and
-David Creech

Back from NW Nicaragua

img_2318-732627I just returned tonight from NW Nicaragua where we saw firsthand some of the impacts of climate change on poverty and a couple of the projects that ELCA World Hunger has supported. We also had the chance to talk to the municipal authorities in Villa Nueva and the Assistant Director of the Millenium Development Corporation in Nicaragua. I saw and heard much more than I have time to share. Tonight, allow me to share briefly about one project we visited that encapsulates my experience thus far.

One of the ways in which climate change is being felt down here is through the unpredictability of precipitation. Before Mitch (1998, the marker for most of the farmers for when the weather patterns began to change), farmers in NW Nicaragua would have two planting seasons, one during the dry season and one during the wet season. The dry season has become so unpredictable that farmers are now hesitant to plant. The dry season may be so incredibly dry that nothing can grow. This first planting season has become a real gamble–seeds from the previous harvest may planted and lost without any return.
img_2317-733748 In the community of Las Jolotas, LWF has dug a well (pictured above) for a family who is now experimenting with irrigation, so that they can plant in the dry season and use gravity to irrigate their crops. This is the first dry season with the well, and, as you can see from the picture here, things are looking very good.
The effects of climate change are already being felt down here, and those who are poorest are being pushed closer to the brink. I am encouraged, though. People are banding together to help each other and good work is being done.
Tomorrow morning I leave for the Atlantic Coast, where we’ll be looking at some of the relief and development work that has taken place since 2007 when Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc. I may be without internet again, but I will post as soon as I get back.
-David Creech
P.S. For more stories and different voices, be sure to check out the other blogs chronicling our trip: and

Nicaragua Update

My time in Nicaragua is off to a phenomenal (and frenetic) start. Today, we oriented ourselves to Nicaragua and the ways in which climate change is already impacting the people of this small (and vulnerable!) country. Our first meeting of the day was with Daniel Ortega’s liaison to churches in Nicaragua. I must confess that his presentation felt a bit like political propaganda, and later on when I spoke with our hosts, they offered a more realistic perspective.

Our second meeting was with the leading climate change expert in Nicaragua, Dr. Incer Barquero. In addition to reviewing the usual facts and figures of climate change (yes, the earth is getting warmer, we are already seeing the impacts in fiercer and more frequent storms, increased droughts and floods, and so on), Dr. Incer Barquero also gave us a picture of what this looks like on the ground here in Nicaragua. Two phenomena stuck out—first, Nicaragua lies to south of the typical hurricane routes. Yet in the last ten or so years, two very strong hurricanes have pummeled Nicaragua, Mitch and Felix, both of which caused unprecedented damage. Global warming is likely key to these new hurricane paths. A second way in which Nicaragua is feeling the impact of climate change is in the unpredictability of weather. It is growing increasingly difficult to predict when and where rain will fall. Some places are uncharacteristically dry, others are unseasonably drenched. This all leads to an upsetting of agricultural practices and disruption in food production.

What was perhaps most encouraging to me about Dr. Incer Barquero’s presentation was his suggestions for moving forward. He thinks that the most effective aid will be distributed on the ground within communities (such as churches) rather than top down (e.g., from the government). He also suggests that the people, especially the indigenous Miskitos on the North Atlantic coast, return to their traditions and heritage in food production (what we call accompaniment at the ELCA). Finally, he recommends that aid be long term and sustainable, “teaching the people how to fish rather than simply giving them a fish.” Each of these strategies matches well with the approach taken by ELCA World Hunger.

Our last session of the day was with the founder of our host organization, CIEETS (an acronym in Spanish for The Inter-church Center for Theological and Social Studies). I was very much encouraged by his vision and hope. I will have more to say about his presentation in a future post.

I will conclude today’s note with a word about Obama’s inauguration. The people we’ve spoken with down here are very excited about our new president. Each person who spoke with us commented on how thrilled they were for us and for the possibilities of renewed relationships between the US and those in the region. Today is, in their estimation, a momentous day filled with hope for a brighter future. As we watched the inauguration over lunch, I must confess that I was proud of my nation.

-David Creech

Nicaragua and Climate Change

I just touched down in Nicaragua, where I will be for the next 10 days looking at the impact of climate change on hunger. We will be, among other things, speaking with certain officials in governmental posts, meeting with various NGOs, and visiting sites on the north Atlantic coast impacted by hurricanes. I will be blogging some of my adventures here, so be sure to check in periodically. Also, some of my cohorts will be sharing their thoughts on blogs of their own: check out and

-David Creech