Written by Barb Powell
As part of a national “Mission:1” campaign to raise funds for hunger-related ministries and awareness of food-related justice issues, United Church of Christ employees today (Nov. 1) sent representatives to Sen. Sherrod Brown’s and Mayor Frank Jackson’s offices with a plea that they advocate for hunger-related programs and legislation.
“It is no secret that hunger and poverty are major issues in the city of Cleveland,” said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the UCC’s Local Church Ministries, of the visit to Jackson’s office. “We have serious challenges here. That’s why we wanted to reach out to our mayor’s office on the first day of Mission:1 and express outright our concern that any budget cuts might adversely affect those in our city with the greatest need.”
“We felt we had a thoughtful, productive conversation, and we were able to underscore that the UCC is committed to Cleveland and wants to be a partner, a leader, in addressing these big challenges,” said Guess. “We also asked how we might help Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland City Council to advocate for federal and state programs that would best serve to strengthen economic opportunities in large cities, like Cleveland.”
The United Church of Christ, whose national headquarters are at 700 Prospect Avenue in downtown Cleveland, is running the 11-day Mission:1 campaign between now and Nov. 11. Its purpose is four-pronged: to raise more than $111,111 for hunger-related ministries in the United States and $111,111 for East Africa famine relief; to send more than 11,111 letters to Congress related to food injustice; and to collect and distribute more than 1 million items of healthy food nationwide for local food pantries and community meals.
UCC Associate General Minister, W. Mark Clark, found the visit to Sherrod Brown’s office helpful in advocating for the elimination of global poverty.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Sherrod Brown plays a key role in funding the implementation of U.S. foreign policy. It was very timely that we met with his staff today, because the subcommittee on which he serves will be considering the funding levels for the State Department and Foreign Operations later this week,” said Clark. “We shared our belief that U.S. foreign aid should be focused on development with a goal of eliminating global poverty and hunger.”
“In these challenging times, some are calling for the elimination of virtually all international development assistance,” Clark added. “We don’t support that at all and we were glad to learn that Senator Brown doesn’t either.”
During Mission:1, UCC employees will help out at Cleveland area foodbanks, hot meal programs, and urban gardens. They also will be visiting Cleveland 11th District Congresswoman Marsha Fudge’s office.