Bread for the World Offering of Letters Workshop 2008

Summary:

This year’s emphasis for the Offering of Letters is the Global Poverty Act.  A group of church and organization representatives met for three hours on Saturday, February 16 at Austin Avenue Methodist Church to learn about Bread for the World in general and this year’s emphasis in particular.  See below for notes from the workshop including Jon Singletary’s powerpoint about the Millennium Development Goals, a PDF of the “Offering of Prayers” hand- out,  and links to the Bread for the World resources discussed at the workshop. 

 Presenters:  

  • Seth Wispelwey and Suzanne Berman from the Texas/Oklahoma Regional Office of Bread for the World (breadtx@bread.org)
  • Jon Singletary, Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at the Baylor School of Social Work (www.baylor.edu/cfcm)

Notes and links: 

Seth and Suzanne gave a general introduction to Bread for the World’s purpose and work.  They explained that Bread is a US based, Christian organization that advocates for public policy that will benefit people who are poor and hungry in the world.  They explained the importance of handwritten letters in influencing public policy, and explained how Bread for the World’s annual “offering of letters” harnesses that influence for the benefit of poor and hungry people. 

This year’s offering of letters focuses on “poverty focused development assistance.”  Specifically, Bread is asking for letters to encourage our legislators to allocate $5 Billion for poverty focused development assistance, and to pass the Global Poverty Act which would make it official policy that the United States is  committed to acheiving Millennium Development Goal #1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Jon gave a powerpoint presentation explaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in general and directing us to some specific resources for introducing the MDG’s to churches.  (Links to these resources are included in the powerpoint.) The presentation uses Zambia as an example to explain how Debt, Trade and Aid interact with each other to affect the economies of deeply indepted countries.  He handed out “Praying Toward the Millennium Development of Goals” an offering of prayers directed specifically toward each of the MDGs. 

Seth and Suzanne used the “Make the U.S. Budget Visible” activity to show us that the $5 Billion being requested for poverty focused development aid is actually just a tiny fraction of the US budget.  This is one of the exercises in the Bread for the World 2008 Offering of Letters Kit which contains information and activities to help churches get involved with the offering of letters. 

We also watched the video from the toolkit which told the story of Catherine — a 13 year old girl in Zambia who is benefitting from the type of aid that would be increased if the offering of letters is successful.  You can view the video on-line at the Bread website.

Toward the end of the meeting, the group broke into small groups to discuss ideas for implementing the offering of letters in our own churches and organizations.

Seth and Suzanne shared other resources from Bread for the World including these handouts:

They also introduced us to the www.worldmapper.org website.  This site shows maps of the world in which the territories have been re-sized according to the subject in question, for example, Percentage of Population living on less than $2  a day.

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