Missions & Social Concerns Focus for January - June 2008
During the latter
half of each year, the Missions & Social Concerns Committee asks
Friends to focus attention and resources upon one Friends United
Meeting missions location (for July - December 2007, Ramallah
Friends Schools in Palestine and July-December 2008 Friends meetings
and work in Cuba). For the first half of 2008,
the Committee calls upon Friends to learn about -- and address in
new ways -- the growing problem of food insufficiency at all levels
Global: According to Bread for the World, over 850 million of the earth's people do not get enough calories, even though the world's farmers produce more than enough food for everyone. Half of the deaths of children are due to malnutrition; in 2005, six million kids under age 5 died of hunger-related causes.
Eleven percent of US households
(35.5 million people) are food insecure. Across the country,
community food pantries are reporting increased demand, and that the
majority of their clients are employed but still cannot afford
Local: Randolph County's Community Food Pantry served an average of 406 persons per month in 2007.
What Can We Do About Hunger?
FOAM! (Fast Once A Month) Join Winchester Quarterly Meeting's IYM Woolman Award project for 2008! Sign up to be one of at least 100 Friends in the Quarterly Meeting fasting from one meal each month beginning in January 2008, in order to identify with those who are hungry, and to provide resources and prayer support for people in need. Follow four easy steps:
1) FAST: During the last week of each month, skip at least one meal you would normally eat. Friends whose health will not allow them to skip an entire meal could choose to cut back to the minimum nutritional intake their condition will safely allow, or fast from some other usual indulgence (soda, coffee, TV, internet, etc.) for a time.
2) OFFER $2 (or whatever you can afford) each month, as the cost of the food you did not eat, to the Winchester Quarterly Meeting FOAM Fund at the church. That money will then be consolidated with other churches' FOAM donations to be sent to the local and global hunger-alleviating ministries the Quarterly Meeting will specify later this year.
3) ADVOCATE: Each month, each participant also is urged to send a brief letter or make a phone call to her/his US Representative or Senator(s) advocating for compassionate public policies that genuinely assist the poor. Sample letters and practical assistance for this can be found readily at Winchester Friends' Bread for the World "un-luncheon" (last Wednesdays, 12 Noon), or at the BFW website Bread For The World.
4) MEDITATE & PRAY: Spend 30 minutes (time you would have spent preparing and/or eating the meal you skipped) in intercessory prayer for people, in your own community and in far-flung places, who struggle to provide adequate nutrition for themselves and their families.
100 Friends FOAMing in 2008 would release 50 new hours of prayer for the hungry and $200 in new funds to help feed them each month. PLEASE SIGN UP TODAY on the enrollment sheet in the parlor, or contact the church office!
Currently there are over 125 Friends in the Winchester Quarterly Meeting who are participating in the FOAM project.
The Problem of Hunger
....If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness.... The Lord will satisfy your needs.... and will strengthen your frame. (Isaiah 58:10,11)
Other ways Friends can work on hunger........
Food Pantry Sunday: On the third Sunday of each month, Winchester Friends attenders bring staple food items to collection boxes at the meetinghouse, to be delivered that week to the local Community & Family Services Pantry. The Pantry served over 400 persons each month during 2007.
Compassion Garden: Junior Youth kids plant seeds for tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers to be grown in the dirt strip between the Friends and Presbyterian parking lots. Donations from Friends for the vegetables grown there the past several summers have fully paid the education expenses (including nutritional support) for a young Compassion International girl in Africa, sustaining her during her school years and equipping her for a more productive adulthood.
The Poverty Diet: Several years ago, an interfaith coalition in Virginia created a novel way to help Americans to better appreciate the dilemma faced by those who need outside assistance in order to adequately feed their families. They challenged politicians, churchgoers, and others to live on an average Food Stamp budget for three days. Currently in Indiana, that would mean spending no more than $3.30 per person per day on food (605,377 Hoosiers received $61,641,372, about $102 per person, for November 2007). The Missions & Social Concerns Committee is working on ways to help interested Friends to try the Poverty Diet for three days this spring. Stay tuned!
In some manner, please start "spending yourself in behalf of the hungry...."