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PC(USA) celebrates Hunger Action Congregations on World Food Day

Presbyterian Hunger Program initiative has seen a lot of growth in the past year

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service 

Pinecrest Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida, is a Hunger Action Congregation. (Photo by Jacqueline Brovold)

LOUISVILLE  Hunger Action is much more than one program or committee in the ministry of First Presbyterian Church in Alton, Illinois. 

During worship, sermons regularly address hunger issues, as do hymns, litanies and, of course, minutes for mission. The church has hosted speakers from countries such as Peru, who have familiarized the congregation with hunger issues around the world, as well as at home. 

Fair Trade products are sold at the church and there is active recycling and composting, including compostable carry-out dishes for mission meals. Twice a week, First Presbyterian Alton offers hot lunches for people staying at the Salvation Army across the street, and regular Saturday Cafes offer food for the church’s neighbors and volunteer opportunities for church members and people in the community. 

Members participate in advocacy for people who are experiencing homelessness and are economically disadvantaged, and they give regularly to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund and groups such as Bread for the World.  

Even vacation Bible school, held at a nature preserve with other area congregations, is focused on hunger and the environment.   

Activities such as these are what the Hunger Action Congregations initiative lifts up to inspire Presbyterians around the country. 

“The purpose of the Hunger Action Congregation process is to acknowledge the faithful work of Presbyterians around the country who are responding to the biblical call to help alleviate hunger and end its causes,” the Hunger Action Congregation web page saysThrough stories and encouragement, we wish to be mutually inspired to pursue broader and more justice-oriented ministries. 

And inspiration has spread. 

Since the last World Food Day (held this year on Oct. 16), when the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) celebrates Hunger Action Congregations, 54 congregations have joined their ranks. That brings the total number of Hunger Action Congregations to 164 in 69 presbyteries. Out of those, 78 are Certified Hunger Action Congregations, meaning they have ministries in all six areas of Hunger Action. Those areas are: 

  • Hunger Alleviation: providing and/or sharing food in a dignified way with an eye to long-term structural solutions
  • Development Assistance: addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty through equitable and sustainable development
  • Hunger Education: learning about systemic causes of hunger, leading toward faithful action that is informed and directed by directly affected people and partners
  • Lifestyle Integrity: adopting sustainable personal and corporate lifestyles to restore justice and protect all of God’s Creation
  • Corporate and Public Policy Witness: advocating and campaigning for changes in policies and practices to end hunger and its causes, promote self-development and care for Creation
  • Worship: incorporating prayer, education, and preaching about ending hunger and its causes into worship.

It takes being active in only one area to be a Hunger Action Congregation. If your congregation wants to apply, click here for the form. 

If we may inspire some friendly competition, here are the Top 5 presbyteries with Hunger Action Congregations: 

So, it will be a while before any presbytery matches Giddings-Lovejoy, which is in the St. Louis area. But every journey starts with a first step. Click here for a list of Hunger Action Congregations around the country. 

Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for National Hunger Concerns for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, says that one of the most interesting things in looking through applications for the program is seeing innovative and thoughtful ways congregations are addressing hunger. He points to programs such as a church that delivers meals to a center for young people who are homeless. First Presbyterian Church of Cottage Grove, Oregon, joins with three other churches in the Portland area to provide beds and meals on cold nights for people who are homeless. 

“It’s encouraging to see congregations doing all this work,” Kang Bartlett says. “My hope is that it provides a platform to amplify all the amazing work.” 

Here are a few more stories about Hunger Action Congregations: 

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. 

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