Statement on Poverty for Religious Leader's Consultation on Poverty

The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D.
Bishop of Washington

This Month's Word on Hunger

by Dr. Craig Nessan

I want to share my review (written for Currents in Theology and Mission) of the book, Ending Hunger:

Ending Hunger Now: A Challenge to Persons of Faith. By George McGovern, Bob Dole, and Donald E. Messer. With a Foreword by Bill Clinton. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005. xiv and 114 pages. Paper. $12.00.

The Spirit is stirring the waters. For the first time in human history it is possible to imagine a world where all people are fed. This is not only a dream in the imagination of the faithful but a sober judgment on the part of politicians and economists (cf. the arguments of Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Penguin Press, 2005). In this book Donald Messer teams with one-time presidential candidates, George McGovern and Bob Dole, to argue forcefully for the urgent priority of ending hunger in this generation. Both McGovern and Dole have strong track records in their political careers of promoting legislation to eliminate hunger. Given their differing political party affiliations, a strong case is made that the ending hunger agenda can and must be a bipartisan effort. The endorsement by Bill Clinton through his Foreword to the book makes the argument even more forceful.

Messer's chapters provide the theological foundation for the book. He establishes the global context for the problem of hunger, offers biblical and theological perspective, and argues passionately for the urgency of the cause. McGovern and Dole, long-time supporters of anti-hunger bills such as food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children*supplemental food assistance), have recently advocated the adoption of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition plan. At the heart of this proposal is the implementation of a school lunch and WIC program on a global scale. Where pilot projects of this kind have been implemented, there have been dramatic reductions in chronic malnutrition. What is now needed is stronger financial commitment on the part of the U.S. government and the world community to the priority of this initiative. The chapters by McGovern and Dole offer seasoned political wisdom and leverage for the adoption of such programs. Chapter Four is a Trialog between the authors that explores many of the ethical and political facets pertaining to the end of hunger.

With the adoption by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August 2005 of a resolution to confront the scandal of hunger as a core dimension of living out the Christian faith, the time has arrived for rostered leaders, congregations, and synods to incorporate ending hunger as an essential dimension of the church's ministry at every level. We need to be developing, sharing, and implementing models of church life that demonstrate how we can effectively bring the ending hunger agenda to the forefront of our domestic and international policies. This book, complete with reflection questions for discussion groups and listing of resources, can offer another critical resource for the inauguration of God's kingdom where all have daily bread.

Craig L. Nessan
Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology Wartburg Theological Seminary
333 Wartburg Place
Dubuque, Iowa 52004
563-589-0207

Northern Illinois Synod World Hunger Committee


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