READing to End Hunger
This synod’s hunger working group had a vision of groups of about ten people gathering in congregations to read David Beckmann’s book Exodus from Hunger. To date, thirty-six congregations have formed reading groups and another twenty-three have expressed their intent to do so before the end of the year.
Chaplain Vicki Pedersen, Director of Spiritual Care at Lutheran Homes in Muscatine, wondered if there might be residents at this facility who would be interested in forming a reading group. “I thought this might be a helpful means for the residents to feel connected to the Church and its ministry outside the walls of what occurs within Lutheran Homes,” So she gathered a group of residents and led them in the study of this book. Chaplain Pedersen reports that discussions were animated and positive. Several folks related poverty and hunger to their own experience, especially growing up in the Depression, pointing out that many times they were beneficiaries of government programs. They saw a strong connection between their faith life and helping the poor and hungry. The timing of the study was coordinated with a challenge issued by Pastor Steve Cauley of Zion in Muscatine to the Lutheran congregations and ministries of Muscatine to collect food items for the Muscatine Food Pantry.
In the end, the residents, family, and staff at Lutheran Homes collected over 1500 pounds of food for the local food pantry. In addition, there were eight letters written by residents of Lutheran Homes to members of congress asking them to support efforts to feed hungry people. Most recently, the documentary “A Place at the Table” which tells the story of hungry people in this country, was shown to interested residents.
Chaplain Pedersen’s work reminds us of the connections that are possible between social ministry organizations and the synod and how people of all ages can be involved in efforts to alleviate hunger and poverty.
If your congregation or any group of which you are a part has not formed a reading group or would like to form another group using books provided by the synod, please contact Pastor Paul Ostrem at [email protected].