Methodist Church

World has means to end hunger, say experts

NASHVILLE (TENNESSEE) – The world’s population is outgrowing agriculture productivity, especially in Africa, said the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, but advocates working to end hunger contend that the world produces enough to feed everyone between 2,700 and 3,000 calories a day.

“We basically produce enough food to make you fat,” said the Rev Kenneth C. Horne Jr, Executive Director Emeritus of the Society of St Andrew. “The food is not very well distributed and never has been.”

When asked if worldwide hunger could be ended, he and other advocates gave a resounding “Yes.”

Mr David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, an inter-denominational hunger organisation, said: “We have the means, we have the technology, we know a lot about what needs to be done.

“I was called to be a missionary economist. The most important thing we can do is pray – get our prayers and priorities right.”

The other thing Christians and people of faith can do is advocate for the poor and hungry. Congregations who care about world hunger can make a difference, he said.

Evidence of world hunger can be seen in Haiti, for example, where a mother walks away from her home, crying and praying for God to send her something she can feed her five starving children.

“She prays for manna, send manna, and manna never comes,” said Dr Lisette DiManche, a doctor at the Clinic of Communite of Christian Church in City-Soleil, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In her work at the clinic, next to a school, she sees the daily effects of malnutrition and poverty.

She sees many hungry, desperate mothers who are helpless to feed their children. Such a mother “will go out everyday praying like this and leaving her children alone”.

This clinic receives aid from Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger organisation. City-Soleil is a slum in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, where children eat “mud cookies” to stave off hunger pangs.

The Society of St Andrew, started in 1979, is a Christian ministry dedicated to “gleaning America’s fields and feeding America’s hungry”. The Rev Horne, a United Methodist pastor, co-founded the organisation with another United Methodist pastor, the Rev Ray Buchanan.

“We felt ourselves very deeply called by God to be in ministry to the poor and we were searching for the ways and means to do that,” the Rev Horne said.

Excess produce translates into 15 million to 20 million pounds of fresh food annually that goes from the field to a hungry person’s plate, often the day it is gathered.

Mr Mike Waldmann, Director of the Society of St. Andrew, said “it is not a matter of doing good, it’s a matter of living your faith”.

Professor Miguel A. DeLaTorre, Professor of Social Ethics at Iliff School of Theology, pointed out that 20 per cent of the people living in the United States are the richest in the world; they own 85 per cent of all the world’s income; produce 66 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases and consume 70 per cent of the world’s energy.

“Our lifestyle, our consumption, is literally stealing the natural resources of the rest of the global community,” he said.

People of faith have the power to turn the world upside down, he said, but religious institutions need to undergo a conversion.

“I’m not talking about conversion the way it has been understood within very narrow evangelical circles,” he said. “I’m talking about conversions to the actual teachings of our religious faith, to actually do what that faith calls us to do.” – United Methodist News Service.

Kathy L.Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.


Chilean honour for Methodist pastor

GENEVA – A Methodist pastor from Uruguay has been honoured by the government of Chile for his defence of human rights in that nation during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.

The Rev Emilio Castro (above), who led the World Council of Churches from 1985 to 1992, received the Orden de Bernardo O’Higgins, the country’s commendation for non-Chilean citizens.

Bernardo O’Higgins, a central figure of Chile’s fight for independence in the 19th century, is considered the nation’s founding father. – United Methodist News Service.


Three denominations celebrate historic pact, spirit of unity

CHICAGO – In joyful embraces, spirit-filled hymns and common prayer, Methodists, Catholics and Lutherans recently marked the end of centuries of division over a central doctrine of faith by vowing to move towards greater unity.

The celebration of a historic agreement on justification by faith, or how individuals are forgiven and brought into a right relationship with God, began with a colourful opening procession in which robed leaders of the three Christian traditions walked side by side.

The professions of unity continued through a rousing finale, as hundreds gathered in Old St. Patrick Church, Chicago’s oldest church building, for a thanksgiving service and sang together with fervour, “We are marching in the light of God”.

Bishop Gregory Palmer, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops; Cardinal Francis George, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, headed their respective denominations at the historic event.

Participants broke out in spontaneous applause at the end. Bishop Palmer said in reflection: “For me, the heart of God, I trust, found some delight in us tonight.”

The agreement, made possible by nearly 35 years of dialogue, voided standing condemnations dating back to the 16th century.

Justification by faith was at the heart of the Reformation, with Lutherans emphasising justification as a divine gift given human beings through no merit of their own.

Catholics, and later Methodists, also emphasised the free will of human beings to accept or reject God’s gift, and the responsibility of believers to do works of piety and mercy.

United Methodist News Service.