Mission and food
A dimension of the all-encompassing mission of God (missio Dei) is to bring relief from suffering. The Old Testament idea of Shalom was connected with harmony, wholeness and completeness. That notion for the Jewish people was bound up with eating the good crops of the land and living in secure and safe housing. Today in 21st century England we know that possibly 10% of the population are living in food insecurity.
Churches collaborating together in ecumenical mission around issues of food have an enormous opportunity to bless the most vulnerable in society. We know that since the introduction of government austerity in 2008 increasing numbers of people are struggling to feed their families. Excellent research from the University of Coventry recently produced free resources on the austerity timeline which helps us see how government freezes on child benefit, the household benefit cap and the introduction of universal credit have had profound effects on the poorest. A workshop outlining some of the most recent finding is going to be hosted by Dr Chris Shannahan and team in mid-September. Details of that workshop will be shared here in due course.
Churches looking to work together in a certain part of their town or village may find resources from the Trussell Trust are a good starting point. The Church Urban Fund have also produced a downloadable PDF entitled Hungry For More: How churches can address the root causes of food poverty.
Emerging out of a day conference, Val said, 'How can we be more prophetic to promote better health and well-being? Why do individuals, families and communities go hungry in the South West? Why do we waste so much food in the region where about 30% is discarded every day? Where are the signs of hope for the longer term in the face of food poverty now? Should we plan to put ourselves (food banks) out of business?
Recent stories of churches in Plymouth helping to feed children can be accessed here. CTE's Senior Comms officer Lucy Olofinjana writes, "All across Plymouth this summer, churches are coming together to offer free meals to children and families in their community. Sixteen churches have united to host the Feast of Fun, sharing their resources, volunteers and buildings to offer food and fun activities to families."
At CTE we are looking for stories where churches are working together to bring the transforming love of Jesus to communities by meeting deepest needs. Do you have a local story at village, town or city level to share? Contact principal officer for mission and evangelism Ben Aldous.