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World Food Day highlights continuing reality of hunger

World Council of Churches and others to hold prayer services

by Darla Carter and Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

Andrea Don via Pixabay

LOUISVILLE — People from around the globe, including some members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will take part in online prayer services Friday, Oct. 16, in honor of World Food Day.

The World Council of Churches will hold a service Friday at 4:30 p.m. (Central European Time), which is 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, as part of the annual observance of the Food Week of Action. (Watch live)

“Hunger is a continuing reality for more than a quarter of the world’s population, with 2 billion people experiencing moderate and severe levels of food insecurity,” Dr. Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, noted in an online Q&A posted by the council. “Faith communities are on the ground, supporting and accompanying communities in these difficult times. We need to celebrate this and share the stories of resilience, renewal and hope.”

Andrew Kang Bartlett of the Presbyterian Hunger Program will be among those participating in the WCC service. It will center on the World Food Day theme of “Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together.”

World Food Day is part of the Food Week of Action, or what the WCC refers to as the Week of Action on Food, and provides an opportunity to spotlight the work of PHP’s Hunger Action Congregations and others doing food justice work.

Laudable efforts include Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church’s Hungry Hearts Community Meals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the pandemic, the church has partnered with local restaurants to provide hundreds of meals a week for the needy through that program. By doing so, the church is following Jesus’ teachings and remembering that “there, but for the grace of God, go I,” said the Rev. Karen Hagen, Tippecanoe’s pastor.

“We are all each other’s brothers and sisters and no one is immune from grief or tragedy” or from “unexpected life happenings,” Hagen said.

World Food Day takes place as countries around the globe continue to grapple with a pandemic that is having an impact on people’s ability to get food.

Dan Turk, a mission co-worker serving Madagascar, teaches seminary students at the Ivato Seminary how to graft and grow fruit trees. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

“The food security of people all over the world has been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dan Turk, a mission co-worker serving Madagascar but currently sheltering in the United States. “People who depend on today’s work for tonight’s supper are among those most affected.”

Kurian made similar comments, noting, “Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation regarding access to food and the livelihoods of people around the world has significantly worsened. The number of people facing acute food insecurity is expected to nearly double to 265 million in 2020, from 135 million in 2019.”

Such suffering is troubling to many people of faith. “Matthew 25 makes clear that as Christians we should be concerned when people are hungry,” Turk said.

Dan and Elizabeth Turk serve with the PC(USA)’s partner church, FJKM (The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar), as it ministers to the population in the areas of health, environment, agriculture and safe drinking water.

With per capita income less than $250 per year, many Malagasy people have difficulty feeding their families. Also, due to ongoing deforestation, many of Madagascar’s endemic plants and animals are threatened with extinction. FJKM is responding by helping people grow fruits and vegetables to improve their nutrition and get out of poverty.

“Through partnerships, we in the PC(USA) are collaborating to help hungry people around the globe re-establish the food security that enables them to live out God’s plan for their lives,” Dan Turk said. “The more people who participate in these partnerships, the greater the number of people reached.”

Learn more about Food Week of Action at View a map of events here.

The Food Week of Action and Presbyterian Hunger Program are supported by gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing. PHP is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering to support the peace and reconciliation work of church partners through World Mission.

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