Presbyterian Hunger Program offers young adults avenues for education and action
December 23, 2023
The Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Jennifer Evans and Eileen Schuhmann helped young adults learn more about both spheres during a workshop held as part of “Jesus and Justice,” the Young Adult Advocacy Conference. Young adults came to the Presbyterian Center and gathered online for the first-ever conference, sponsored by PC(USA) advocacy ministries in Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations.
One tool that’s being utilized effectively by faith communities across the nation is Congregation-Based Community Organizing, or CBCO, a grassroots organizing model congregations used to revitalize justice ministries. Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Communities, a PHP partner, used the CBCO process to, among other initiatives, get city officials to listen to people living in unsafe mobile homes in that Virginia community.
The city listened, including $300,000 for repairs in its 2022 budget and $500,000 for the current year, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The CBCO process can take quite a bit of time. Leaders initially meet with members of the faith community and the local community to discuss issues. Through those conversations, common areas of concern emerge. Participants vote to determine a few common areas of concern, Evans said.
Next is research. A committee or committees are formed, and the research helps to determine solutions that will resolve the identified long-term problems. Next, public officials who have the authority to implement the solutions are identified.
CBCO members are trained on how to successfully press officials to move closer to the goal of implementing solutions identified by the research committee, Evans said.
The last step, of course, is taking action. CBCOs arrange for a large community event called a Nehemiah Action, which provides a public space to celebrate and negotiate how the solution will be implemented.
“CBCO is long-term work. It’s not a one-and-done situation,” Evans said. Among the many follow-up tasks is to make sure the money that’s been budgeted is actually spent on the project for which it’s been authorized.
“This model is vital, we think, to effecting change,” Evans said.
Schuhmann’s work is focused on the international side of hunger issues. “Most of the advocacy work we do is through Joining Hands, an initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program” focused on food, land and resource extraction, she noted. Joining Hands operations are now in six countries: Peru, El Salvador, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Joining Hands initiatives in each of the six countries are explained in this document.
As Schuhmann explained it, among the current issues is Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a specific right granted to Indigenous peoples recognized in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. FPIC allows Indigenous peoples to provide, withhold or withdraw consent, at any point, regarding projects impacting their territories. That’s the kind of concern at the heart of Apache Stronghold’s fight over congressional approval of a copper mine that will negatively impact land sacred to the tribe.
Other advocacy steps Evans and Schuhmann recommended participants consider include tracking the investments of one’s seminary, university, church, employer or denomination, and joining the Global Solidarity Network. Learn more about that by emailing Schuhmann.
Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Hunger Program offers a workshop on Hunger advocacy at home and abroad at the Jesus and Justice Young Adult Advocacy Conference
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tom Taylor, President & Chief Executive Officer, Presbyterian Foundation
Nicki Thomas, Gift Processing Associate, Ministry Engagement & Support, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Let us pray
Gracious God, in Jesus Christ, you reached out with your love for all. Make us generous in reaching out with the love of Jesus Christ to those we know and to those we are just meeting. Especially bless those who go out of their way to care for others in Jesus’ name. For it is in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.