Greetings from the Hudson Valley! Some of us in the Hudson Conference have been working on a Sower ministry project that we’d love to tell you about. Here’s a bit about the ministry and what we’ve done in the past year.
An alternate food and economy movement has been growing in this region and we think the church has the resources, tools, and vision to be leaders in this trend.
The production and distribution of food touches many of the most pressing social, spiritual, environmental, human health, and economic issues we face as a society today. Some of the fastest growing populations in our region are young people intensely interested in sustainable, artfully prepared food, and alternative, community-building economies. On the other hand, another of the fastest growing populations are people who cannot afford to participate in this flourishing cornucopia. These populations are disproportionately urban and minority groups. Consequently, there is a widening gap between the food and arts movements and those who cannot afford to participate or benefit from them. HV food deserts
In this context we’ve created a food, faith, and community ministry with the following key characteristics:
1. Diaconal: Diaconal ministry is service oriented and intended to create a bridge between the church and the world. It is meant to draw people out of the church in service to the world while drawing the concerns of the world back into the church.
2. Transcongregational and interfaith: the working model here is based on building alliances, collaboration, and cooperation across congregations, denominations, faiths, and spiritualities.
3. Action based: the focus is on taking action in our communities while building and broadening our sense of community. We’ve seen that the church can be a source of creative solutions to community needs. By bringing people of diverse beliefs together around shared concerns we’ve been building a reputation as community leaders who are effective change-makers.
Here’s what we’ve done this year:
We started with a brainstorming party to identify the areas of community need we wanted to focus on, looking for ways we could connect unmet community needs with untapped community resources.
We decided to start by purchasing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares from Phillies Bridge Farm Project (New Paltz) to distribute fresh, sustainable, healthy produce to people living in food deserts. We asked interfaith community leaders to help us identify people who were not only low income, but also had difficulty accessing healthy food because of lack of transportation options.
We then organized a network of 17 volunteers from over 7 interfaith worshipping communities to pick up and deliver Phillies Bridge shares to 4 families and one food ministry.
We also organized several educational “Action Events” at Phillies Bridge Farm where we linked service with faith by concluding service parties by sharing a meal and holy conversation about the spiritual and religious impact of food and gardening.
We created and distributed educational and inspirational materials: a Lutheran Study Guide for Pope Francis’ letter on climate change and 9 newsletters (distributed to 70 subscribers).
Here’s what’s still developing and coming in the next year:
An educational event this May 7 (9-4pm, Christ Lutheran, Newburg) with Lutheran ethicist Cynthia Moe-Lobeda on the interconnections of food, climate change and systemic racism.
We wrote and received a grant with Phillies Bridge Farm to expand our CSA distribution project to address one of the area’s two major food deserts in Kingston Rondout neighborhood (the other is in Newburg).
Action Events again this spring and summer