Bread for the World Covenant Church
In developing countries, 1.3 billion people (equaling the entire population of China) live in absolute poverty, with individual purchasing power equivalent to less than one US dollar a day and 70 percent of childhood deaths are associated with malnutrition and preventable diseases. Approximately 35,000 children worldwide die each day from hunger-related causes, and another 841 million other people will suffer from malnutrition (Bread for the World Institute).There is significantly more hunger-related pain, suffering and death in the world than that caused by all the wars in the world. Approximately 18 million people die each year from hunger, malnutrition and resulting diseases. In the US, approximately 31 million people go to bed hungry a part of each month.
The prophets promised a messiah who would establish justice and the knowledge of God, and Jesus later announced himself as the fulfillment of those promises: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives. . .to set at liberty those who are oppressed . . ." (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus asked that we see that the hungry are fed (Matt. 25:35), and Jesus also said "in as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40). Jesus fed hungry people, befriended outcasts and called for radical sharing. He embodied forgiveness and mercy. Those of us who have been embraced by this "good news" are drawn to be concerned about people in need and we are compelled to work to make our society's laws fair and helpful toward poor and hungry people.
The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that, "In order to provide basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and other necessities, ways must be found to share more equitably the resources of the world. Increasing technology, when accompanied by exploitative economic practices, impoverishes many persons and makes poverty self-perpetuating" (¶ 163E).
Our General Conference resolution, "Call for a Rebirth of Compassion" (Resolution #196, 2000 Book of Resolutions), reinforces this sentiment when it states that "we call upon United Methodists throughout the land not only to feed the hungry and house the homeless, but also to work for policies that will end hunger and homelessness."
Bread for the World (BFW), established in 1974, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan Christian citizens' movement which performs a unique and critical role within the faith community by working to eradicate hunger from the face of the earth by using their network of thousands of local Covenant Churches across America to lobby elected officials to change policies to provide opportunities to establish a sustainable livelihood for all people. BFW's main campaign is an annual nationwide "Offering of Letters," which not only provides church members with the opportunity to write members of Congress concerning hunger-related issues, but also enables congregations to incorporate into their worship experience, their passionate concerns for those that are starving and suffering from malnutrition.
Covenant Church membership includes training, Bible study and worship aids (resources/materials) on the Christian response to world hunger. The BFW Covenant Church network (www.bread.org) is an essential component of the hunger program of The United Methodist Church, and its efforts complement UMCOR's (http://gbgm-umc.org/
umcor) and the General Board of Church and Society's ministry (http://umc-gbcs.org) in alleviating the root causes of hunger/
poverty. Direct feeding (soup kitchens) provides relief one day at a time (and may always be needed) but does little to eradicate causes of hunger. Holistic spirituality and development (putting love in action) prepares persons for sustainable livelihoods, but only if government policies are changed to permit this. The Bread for the World Covenant Church program provides opportunities to change government policies. Bread for the World works, but more grassroots initiative is needed. Otherwise, at the current rate of change, between 1.5 and 2 billion people will die during the next 75 years due to hunger/malnutrition.
BFW's Covenant Church program focuses on an annual nationwide "Offering of Letters" and helps prepare United Methodists to effectively change public policy through new legislation each year.
The United Methodist Church, along with more than 45 denominations and church agencies, generously supports BFW, and in fact, The United Methodist Church has a 25-year history of collaboration with BFW's fight against the root causes of both global and domestic hunger. The United Methodist Advance Special Number is: 982325-3. BFW has said that, "[It] owes much to Methodism's historic commitment to social justice and active concern for the poor and downtrodden. John Wesley's conviction that `the world is my parish' is at the heart of BFW's work,"
Therefore, be it resolved, that The United Methodist Church significantly enhance its efforts to END HUNGER by increasing participation in the Bread for the World (BFW) Covenant Church program. We further urge that The United Methodist Church achieve a minimum of a 5 percent increase in the number of churches participating in the BFW Covenant Church program each year.
Amended and Readopted 2004
resolution #210, 2004 Book of Resolutions
resolution #201, 2000 Book of Resolutions
See Social Principles, ¶ 163D and E.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.