When we remember Jesus' words about feeding the hungry, we may not always recall the King James translation: "For I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat" (Matthew 25:35).
Members of Christ Lutheran Church, Lewisburg, Pa., have been doing just that — helping to prepare tons of beef and pork for the world's hungry — for nearly 20 years.
They take the hands-on approach to easing world hunger. Members raise money to buy animals for slaughter, and then volunteers cut, cook and can the meat.
The work is done through the Central Pennsylvania World Hunger Association, an ecumenical group that works with the major meat canning project of the Mennonite Central Committee (21 South 12th St., Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500).
The Mennonites bring portable canning equipment to stops in 11 states and Canada where volunteers process meat. In Pennsylvania, 300 volunteers participated this year.
Eight men and two women from Christ donned butcher's aprons and hats (to keep their hair out of the food) and took a turn chopping and canning.
"It was a great privilege to work ecumenically with so many other Christians in fulfilling our Lord's injunction to meet hunger," said Scott Zimmerer, pastor of Christ. "And the way this vast number of volunteers worked so smoothly together — without anxiety or tension — made it a genuine joy."
After cutting, the meat is heated in big vats. Then it's placed in small cans, capped and put in large pressure cookers. Over four days, the Pennsylvania volunteers processed 16,800 cans of beef, pork and broth.
The effort has become a yearly tradition for the Lewisburg church, which has given a total of $13,764 and involved 84 volunteers in the project over 18 years.
"This is one of the committee's most satisfying projects," said Patty Weikel, chair of church's social ministry committee. "It was love in action to feed the hungry."
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