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ELCA World Hunger

Stacy Johnson on the Inspiration behind Taking Root

I became a mother for the first time in October, 1997. Even though I knew I would love my child, I was unprepared for the completeness and intensity of my love for my son. I was also unprepared for the fact that I began to see my child in the faces and lives of other children, children known to me and children not known to me. I became a better pastor and teacher when I became a mother. I recognized the triumphs and fears in the parents and children around me. They seemed very real and very familiar.

At this same time, it was also hard for me to see pictures of and read articles about children who were hurt or were starving. I knew it happened, of course, but I did not want to see evidence that children suffered so greatly. Those children were no longer abstract children to me. They were children who were someone’s greatest treasure.

My son is now eleven, and he has a brother and a sister. I now make myself read articles and books about hunger and poverty because I know that mothers whose children are hungry, love their children just as I love mine. I feel that I have to keep track of these women and their children in order to fulfill my call to preach and teach the Gospel. It is still hard. I cannot always look at the pictures, but I know that if their stories are not known and told, nothing will change. I work every day to hold on to my hope that hunger will end and that every mother’s treasured child will have enough.

The Rev. Stacy K. Johnson

Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., is an ELCA pastor and the author the new World Hunger curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes.

Stacy Johnson on Taking Root for Younger Children


I’ve been asked many questions about “Taking Root,” the ELCA Hunger curriculum. Perhaps the most common question is about using the materials with children younger than Grade 3. I think the materials do lend themselves to adaptation for younger learners. To use “Taking Root” with young children, this is what I recommend:

1) Focus on the children’s literature. Children are captivated by stories, especially good stories read well. Some of the discussion questions in the Grades 3 – 6 Leaders’ Guide will work for young children. Stay away from too many content questions, such as What was the man’s name? What did the child do? Instead, encourage children to think about the story with questions like, Why do you think the man did that? If you had been the child in the story, what would you have done?

2) Remember that young children are quite able. It is true that young children are not able to think abstractly about an abstract concept. They can, though, think about an abstract idea, like the justice of food distribution, if it is presented in a concrete way. Several activities in the curriculum including The Peanut Game, and Hunger Footprints would work for young children.

3) Emphasize activities and projects, including Neighbor Cookies, Junk Art Sculptures, Vases from the Recycling Bin, and Upside Down and Right Side Up Birdfeeders. These projects are very workable and enjoyable for young children.

4) Proclaim the focus Bible texts. Young children are just developing a concept of the Bible. It would be good for them to realize that the Bible has a concern for justice and also has much to say about hunger and poverty in our world.

Remember… curriculum is closer to a road map than a specific set of directions. Be creative and flexible!

Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., is an ELCA pastor and the author the new World Hunger curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes. She has agreed to post a couple of times on our blog to answer questions and provide suggestions.

WebEx Conference with the Author of Taking Root

As you may already be aware, ELCA World Hunger just released a new curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes. This curriculum is an excellent tool to help raise up the next generation of people who will be passionate about addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty.

To help get the word out about the curriculum and to answer any questions that folks may have about it, I will be hosting three WebEx sessions with the author, ELCA pastor Stacy Johnson. I invite you to join us on Monday, May 11 from 1-2pm CST, Tuesday, May 12 from 7-8pm CST, or Thursday, May 14 from 7-8pm CST. If you are interested, please contact me at and I will give you the details you need to join us for the conversation.

If you know of anyone else who may benefit from this opportunity (such as pastors, Sunday school teachers, Christian education directors, etc.), feel free to forward this post to them.

David Creech