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Gearing up for World Food Day

Well, it's officially October.. and we have SO MUCH going on this month that it's hard to keep it all straight. But that's our job, not yours ;)

In the meantime, we really want you all to know about World Food Day. On October 16th, people around the world will be joining together in the global movement to end hunger (see more here). We've taken this on as a project because the connections between climate change, drought, famine, and global food scarcity are undeniable. We'll explain.

Climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather events like droughts and floods. These storms can ruin entire crop seasons for farmers who rely on what they grow and harvest to feed themselves and their families. It only takes one or two failed crop seasons to leave people starving, unable to find or purchase food.

To promote World Food Day, we launched a special tab on our Good Steward Campaign facebook page. This also shares videos, resources, and more information. If you want to participate by downloading materials (a placemat and discussion guide), then Like our facebook page and let us know! We're trying to make World Food Day 2013 (#wfd2013) the biggest one yet.

World Food Day dinners are a time to be thankful, a time to show solidarity with the hungry, and a time to think about what we can do to put an end to global hunger. So gather around with your family, your friends, your church, or your classmates. Then, share with us (jessica@goodstewardcampaign.org) how you celebrated WFD 2013. We'll be posting the best stories on our website, facebook, and twitter.


Climate activism and faith go hand in hand

On Thursday, Chief Spokesperson for the Good Steward Campaign, Reverend Rich Cizik, visited University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill to talk climate and faith with Wesley Campus Ministry.

Last week, a piece written by a student ran in the Daily Tarheel. She did such a great job that I'm reposting it here. No need for my added commentary!!


On Sept. 26, Rev. Rich Cizik will be visiting UNC to give a talk titled, “For God’s Sake, Let’s Focus On the Earth.” Cizik, a minister and climate activist, will be traveling here on behalf of the Good Steward Campaign, a faith-based environmental organization that works to inform and engage students in conversations about faith, climate, stewardship and fossil fuel divestment. Yes, you read that right. Faith and climate change.

Prior to his role as senior spokesman for the Good Steward Campaign and co-founder of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, Cizik was the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals. There, he was one of the leading figures who championed this issue as something that Christians ought to think and care about more deeply.

Now, Cizik travels the country, giving speeches on creation care and fossil fuel divestment. But these are topics he didn’t always embrace. In the Washington Post, Cizik says, “I was converted to both the ‘challenge’ of climate change as a moral and spiritual dilemma, but also to the concrete science.”

Last year, there was an active fossil fuel divestment campaign operating at UNC, but it was unsuccessful. While the campaign was ongoing, however, we didn’t hear a lot of arguments from a faith perspective. Cizik and the Good Steward Campaign work hard to demonstrate that the way we think about climate change and investments need not be separate from the way we think about other moral decisions and our faith.

The good news is that the UNC chapter of the Sierra Student Coalition’s Beyond Coal campaign is still very much alive and well at UNC. And this time around, I hope we hear more conversation about the issue coming from a place of faith.

Environmental issues, including climate change, are social justice issues that all Christians, as well as those of other religious backgrounds, can agree on. Faith gives us powerful reasons to look at the world around us in a meaningful way, and it can guide us to actions that positively impact the earth. I look forward to hearing Cizik’s well-informed insights on these issues and using this event as an opportunity to start an important conversation.

And so, we invite the entire UNC community to join us at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 at University United Methodist Church to explore topics of faith, climate change, stewardship and fossil fuel divestment.

Molly Patterson ’14

Religious studies

Wesley Campus Ministry

International Day of Peace

This Saturday, Sept. 21st, the Good Steward Campaign will be in Philadelphia, PA to celebrate and honor International Day of Peace. There are events happening all over the country and world, but at the Philadelphia Friends Center, the day-long mini-conference is offering workshops and a place for students to gather to learn about, discuss, and contemplate the world in which we live. And we're partnering with Katie McChesney from 350.org on this event!

It might initially seem odd that we, the Good Steward Campaign, are getting involved with International Day of Peace. But I assure you, there are many connections between climate change and both national and international security.

When huge rural populations rely on farming to survive, one failed crop season has the ability to put them in dire economic straits. Multiple failed crop seasons, leaving families without food or income, push people to the point of desperation. This often results in families being forced to abandon their rural homes and farms and migrate to cities or to other regions that are not suffering as badly from climate change induced droughts or floods or fire.

So, people migrate. But in regions of the world where your home says a lot about your religious sect or your familial clan, migration means invading the homeland of other sects. This causes tension.

And where there was previously "almost" or "just enough," now more people are competing for fewer resources and this leads to desperation. Imagine a drought that lasts five years -- imagine not having enough food to feed your family for five years. You know that saying, "Desperate times call for desperate measures?"  Well, it turns out that in the case of climate change and political unrest, that's especially true. Unfortunately the "desperate measures" in this case often includes violent action, riots, and various other illegal activities.

Furthermore, for decades, religious groups have addressed hunger and poverty in the developing world by investing in schools, agriculture, small business, public health, and more. These investments have helped millions of people across the world.

But climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, threatens everything that religious groups have accomplished. Climate change creates weather conditions that increase the spread of disease, makes it harder to grow crops, and destroys vital infrastructure and natural ecosystems through extreme weather events. Those with the fewest resources are the most vulnerable to these impacts.

Fossil fuels undermine the investment in time and energy that churches make in reaching out to the poorest among us by exacerbating climate conditions that contribute to disease, hunger, and poverty.

And so, what are our options? Well surely we can consume less, use less energy ourselves, and continue to do peace-building work overseas. But on a larger scale, fossil fuel divestment is a peaceful action that takes a stand against fossil fuels on a larger scale. By getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous, you're aligning you investments with your values -- and that's a powerful move.

To learn more about Saturday's event, visit http://www.peacedayphilly.org/ and check out the list of workshops here. Any and all are welcome and we would love to have you! As always, keep up with us on Twitter at @IAmAGoodSteward.

Eric Sapp speaks at Davidson College

This piece initially debuted in The Davidsonian online

Special FCA guest speaker tonight

Twelve years ago, on September 11, 2001, Eric Sapp left his job at the Pentagon, where his office was located in the very wing that was destroyed by the terrorist attacks.  He went to Duke in order to finish two Masters degrees in Divinity and Public Policy. This September 11, though, he will return to his alma mater, Davidson College, to speak to FCA about his personal faith journey and the issues of faith, politics, climate, and national security--topics that are far more interrelated than one may think.

Sapp is the founding partner of an influential consulting firm and works with both faith and politics. He was named one of a dozen 2007 culture changing “mavericks” by Details magazine for his role in reshaping the faith and political landscape of America.

Two years later, the Wall Street Journal credited the American Values Network (AVN), a non-profit organization he helped found that applies political lessons to issue advocacy, with playing a central role in passing the 2009 Climate Bill in the U.S. House. The White House and Senate Leadership citedAVN campaigns as turning points in the ratification of the New START Treaty and adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Sapp has been a Senate Committee staffer, a House Appropriations staffer, and has served five years in the parish. In his most recent venture to explore how video games can shape attitudes and create real-world outcomes, he created the most popular Christian game in the iTunes Store.

As a student at Davidson, Sapp played football and was named MVP his senior season. He also served as the president of FCA for two years. He credits Davidson and FCA with molding the values and beliefs that shaped what he has done since Davidson.

“FCA helped me turn my primarily intellectual faith into a much more personal and relational one,” Sapp said. “It was at Davidson that I first felt a call to ministry, and it was through classroom experiences, football, and FCA that I was able to see the importance and opportunities for ministry outside the parish.”

Tonight, Sapp will speak to FCA on behalf of AVN’s Good Steward Campaign to share his faith journey, discuss how the issue of climate has become intertwined with so many Christian priorities in Washington, D.C., and share the lessons he has learned on living out one’s faith after college.

Campus Events Are Underway — First up, University of Virginia

On Sept. 3rd, Jessica Church, Good Steward Campaign's Field Director, traveled down to Charlottesville, Virginia to spend an evening talking faith, creation care, and stewardship with The University of Virginia's Canterbury Student Ministry. Attendance varied from first years to graduate students and conversation was lively.

We looked the story of Creation, specifically Genesis 1:26-31. The text reads as follows:

26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

This is one of those texts that critics of the environmental movement use to debase Christian ideas of stewardship and creation care. But with careful examination, you can find that this Scripture is full of clues and instructions on how God relates to humans and how humans ought to relate to Creation.

First, we're told to have dominion over the Earth. But God has dominion over us, while still allowing us to develop, flourish, and be our truest, most unique selves. This is one way we can think of 'dominion' over the wild parts of nature. Don't stifle it. Rather, let it grow.

Second, versus 29-31 talk about livestock, plants, and food. In this respect, having 'dominion' is akin to being the best gardener or farm manager around. It means nurturing the land, planting seeds, and feeding those in your community.

We love praying, talking, and reflecting on Scripture with students at UVA. They asked tough questions, had insightful comments, and are passionate about being Good Stewards of this great Creation.

But this is only the first event of many! We'll be at 30 schools this fall, so stay tuned.