The day before Easter, in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, Mo., a table stood six feet in front of the parking lot door of St. John UCC. Servers in masks and gloves stepped forward, set out cold takeout meals one at a time, and stepped back. Neighbors came forward one at a time to take meals away.Read more
In rural St. Marys, Ohio, more than 100 people drove up to the door of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ on Thursday, March 19, to get white paper bags with meals inside. In a pandemic, the church is trying to keep alive a meals program that for years has met varieties of hunger that are more than physical.Read more
|Invitation from Collegium|
Adapted for Latino CongregationsAlimentandose Justamente Guia del Lider
Alimentandose Justamente - Middle School
Adapted for African American Congregations
“Just Eating? While this phrase could mean only eating, the word, just, also means ‘being honorable and fair in one’s dealings.’ This play on words captures a paradox that this curriculum addresses. Eating can be a mundane activity done with little thought or reflection; or it can be an opportunity to thoughtfully live out our faith and practice justice.” [Excerpted from Just Eating Leader’s Guide]
Just Eating? Practicing Our Faith at the Table is a seven-session curriculum for congregations that call us to integrate the commitments and practices of our faith into the way we eat. The study uses scripture, prayer and stories from the local and global community to explore five key aspects of our relationship with food.
- Food sharing as sacramental
- The health of our bodies
- The access others have to food
- The health of the earth, which our food choices influence
- The ways we use food to extend hospitality and enrich relationships
The objectives of this curriculum are to:
- Bring into dialog our day-to-day eating habits, the Christian faith, and the needs of the broader world.
- Explore faith practices which encourage healthful eating.
- Support each other in taking personal and group action that reaches beyond this seven-week curriculum.
The curriculum comes with a Leader Guide and a book of Readings for Action and Reflection. The Leader’s Guide is laid out in an easy-to-follow format. It includes suggested lesson plans, leader resources and ideas for an optional meal that groups may want to share.
Participants are invited to read in the Readings for Action and Reflection in between sessions. The reading book includes five days of readings for each session which bring together a scripture text, a reflection on the text, and a contemporary reading. It also provides suggested Faith in Action and Healthy Eating Tips and resources for exploring the topic further. The reading book can also be used as a devotional guide on its own.
While the Just Eating? curriculum was designed for small groups of 6-12 people who have about one hour, it is meant to be flexible so that congregations can use it in the way that is best for them. For instance, the Leader Guide includes tips for leading the sessions if you only have 45 minutes, if your group is larger than twelve people, if you have five sessions instead of seven, etc.
The Collegium invites and encourages all conferences, associations and congregations to participate and engage in dialogue and discussion during the Lenten Season using the Just Eating? curriculum.
The Just Eating ciriculum is a collaboration of Advocate Health Care – Congregational Health Partnerships, Church World Service - End Hunger Program, and Presbyterian Church (USA) – Food and Faith.
An estimated 925 million people globally will go hungry today. Seven billion people share the planet and by 2050 the world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion people. This increase will put enormous pressure on global food capacity. Added to that, more people in Western-style and growing economies are adopting a high calorie, meat-based diet, and the price of staples - like corn used for cattle feed - continue to rise as a proportion of daily living expenses for the poor.
Environmental degradation and crop damage due to climate change, the rise of biofuels, and agricultural distortions due to export farming add to the instability of local food cultures, creating conditions of increased food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition.
Why are hunger and food security issues of faith?
In Matthew 25:35 and 25:40, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…..Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
In this compelling scripture, Jesus includes even those we do not know as those with whom we must share our food, our water, and our welcome. He does not distinguish between the “deserving’ or undeserving” poor, nor does he make a distinction between those who live close to us and those who may live in other places. He calls all his followers to share what we have and to work towards a time when all people have enough food and water for their needs.
In 2009, the General Synod of the UCC passed a resolution on the Global Food Crisis, calling on the church “to advocate for strengthening sustainable agricultural and fishing practices.”
In 2011, the General Synod of the UCC passed a Resolution for Mindful and Healthy Eating, challenging our members and congregations to explore and discuss how food choices can accord with Christian values and beliefs.
Observe the Global Churches Week on Action on Food
We are called to work for a world where everyone has sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food! And where those who produce and prepare the food are fairly compensated, respected and celebrated!
The Global Food Week of Action (October 9-17) is an opportunity for Christians and others around the world to act together for food justice and food sovereignty. It is a special time to raise awareness about farming approaches that help individuals and communities develop resiliency and combat poverty. Beyond examining our food choices, we must also recognize the lingering roots of racism embedded in our food system, which was founded on slavery and plantation agriculture, and still exploits the environment and the workers in the food chain. We call for societal and policy changes that bring us closer to realizing the right to food for everyone.
The Food Week of Action includes World Food Day (October 16), International Day for Rural Women (October 15), International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), and National Food Day (October 24).
- Download the *New* Food Week of Action and World Food Day Resource (September 2016) - Churches Week of Action on Food is an initiative of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance's Food For Life Campaign.
- Connect - Join the global Food Week event on Facebook
- Promote the Solidarity Actions for 2016:
The UCC Collegium of Officers invites and encourages all conferences, associations and congregations to participate and engage in dialogue and discussion using the Just Eating Curriculum.
This resource is especially relevant for UCC congregations in light of the General Synod 28 Resolution for Mindful and Faithful Eating. In it, General Synod notes that "Our dietary choices can have profound implications for the environment, human well-being, and animal welfare." It goes on to call on all Christians to "explore and discuss how food choices can accord with Christian values and beliefs."
This wonderful curriculum calls us to integrate the commitments and practices of our faith into the way we eat. We think it will be a great enhancement to your work around food justice and sustainability issues. Learn more.
Take the conversation further - Download the 'Just Eating?'curriculum!
- Bread for the World conducts research and policy advocacy on food and aid, and promotes other anti-hunger programs.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Working to Reduce Global Hunger - A faith community discussion paper produced by the Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns
- Ecumenical Advocacy Days – At God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World | April 5-8, 2013
- One Great Hour of Sharing connects you with a variety of hunger assistance and development opportunities.
- Fairness for farm workers connects you with the people who make food security possible – both locally and on large farms.
- Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance – Food for People Campaign sponsors the Churches’ Week of Action on Food. The week in October goes from Monday to Monday and incorporates the International Day for Rural Women (October 15), World Food Day (October 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17).
- The UCC Poverty Page is a site with resources and educational materials linking issues of poverty, economic justice, and hunger.
- Visit the ecumenical Faithful Budget campaign site for information on our nation’s budgetary priorities to learn more about protecting funding for foreign aid and domestic food programs.
- Church World Service provides resources, advocacy and partners with churches in development projects and emergency assistance. CWS Crop Walks are opportunities for local communities to raise awareness and money for hunger programs.
Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil is an annual fall advocacy and prayer project of the Family and Children's Ministries partnership of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This year's vigil begins on September 14th, five weeks before the National Observance of Children's Sabbath weekend on October 17-19 sponsored by the Washington DC based Children's Defense Fund (CDF).
This year’s theme is “Precious in God’s Sight: Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child.” The 2014 Children’s Sabbath focuses on how we can ensure every child a strong start in life by investing in early childhood development. Needless to say, these are rough times for children and there are numerous other issues relating to children’s health and safety which need our prayer and advocacy. A free worship, faith formation and advocacy resource packet for Christian faith community can be downloaded at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/faith-based-action/childrens-sabbaths/. Thousands of congregations from multiple faith communities unite during Children’s Sabbath weekend to simultaneously witness for children through prayer, education, and worship.
As usual, this year’s Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil booklet written by UCC and Disciples faith leaders and edited by Disciples pastor Rev. Tim Graves will be available for download at: http://lightacandle.blogspot.com/ or available on Facebook at: “Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil”. Light aCandle daily meditations can also be received by email or the RSS feed. Also available is a brochure with tips for implementing the Light a Candle Vigil in your congregation.
It is important to note that our Family and Children's Ministries Light A Candle for Children vigil and advocacy program and the Children's Sabbath Celebration is a part of a growing children's advocacy movement that seeks to unite communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.
If you are interested in becoming involved our ongoing United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) children's advocacy efforts please contact one of our three Ministers for Family and Children's Ministries including myself, Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rev. Olivia Stewart Robertson (email@example.com) or Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You are encouraged to use and adapt the Family and Children's Ministries' Light a Candle for Children Vigil and Children’s Sabbath Celebration resources in whatever ways you feel are most appropriate for your congregation. Remember, a congregation does not need to have children among its active members to be engaged in children's ministry!