Friday, February 10, 2012

David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World @ LTSP

On February 7th the LTSP community was privileged to hear David Beckmann, a Lutheran pastor and President of Bread for the World, speak at our first convocation of the spring 2012 semester.  The talk was an encouraging yet sobering update on what has occurred in the struggle to end global food insecurity since the publication of Mr. Beckmann’s book Exodus from Hunger in 2010.  Through Exodus’s inclusion in the “One Seminary; One Book” campaign, the LTSP community has learned a great deal both about hunger and what role public theologians have in leading our world out of what is very solvable crisis.  Much like in his book, Beckmann discussed how solving hunger can be a bi-partisan issue, evidenced by the fact that Bread for the World has both former Republican Senator Bob Dole and former Democratic Senator Tom Harkin on it’s board.”  He also stressed that public theologians have a responsibility to help faith communities see citizenship as stewardship and considering offerings of not only money and food but advocacy actions that work towards changing the system that causes hunger in our world.

While a great deal of work has already been done towards ending food insecurity, Mr. Beckmann discussed how given the current political environment, we need to help defend the “circle of protection” around the poor and vulnerable of our society.  Although maintaining church food banks is a great start, they only contribute 6% of what federal assistance programs currently do towards feeding hungry people.  As state and federal politicians continue attacking the federal safety net of food stamps, school breakfast and lunches, tax credits and other programs, the faith community must stand, the faith community needs to lend its voice to those who do not have one.  Here are only a few ideas of what folks at LTSP and elsewhere could do to help in this effort:

  1. Pick up a copy of Exodus from Hunger and read it to educate yourself on the issue if you have not already done so (it’s a really easy book).
  2. Check the websites of Lutheran Advocacy Ministries of PA and Bread for the World to learn more about current legislation and issues.
  3. Write, call or visit your local, state or federal representatives as indicated on those websites… even if you’re against their position, the people who work in legislative offices are generally pretty nice. Help folks at your congregations and field sites realize how important advocacy is as part of their faith.
  4. Let’s get creative on the LTSP campus! Figuring out how to do a well-publicized hunger fast during part of Lent might be a great start.
By engaging in these actions, we can both ensure that hungry people are fed and that we are doing our best to be the Church, Christ’s body on earth.

God's peace,

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