For more than a third of a century, the Christian citizens' lobby Bread for the World has found a way to live out the prayer "Give us this day our daily bread" by lobbying government leaders. Standing up for children and other particularly vulnerable members of society, people write to their elected officials, educating them about legislation affecting hungry people and urging the passage of anti-hunger policies.
How did such an organization get started? At a Wednesday night Lenten worship and discussion in a church basement, writes Arthur Simon in The Rising of Bread for the World, both a memoir and history (Paulist Press, 2009). Simon, 79, is the organization's founder and was president until 1991, when David H. Beckmann assumed that post.
In the 1970s, Simon was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each week members gathered to discuss a different topic, followed by worship that centered the evening's discussion on Jesus. What most caught the group's heart and imagination was hunger.
One participant proposed taking up a church "offering" of letters about hunger and sending them to the local congressional representative. Within four years, that worship-framed discussion of hunger had given birth to a Christian citizens' lobby. Two years later, Bread for the World embarked on its first major national campaign, the Right to Food Resolution.
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