Faith leaders are by vocation storytellers and story translators. Pastors use stories from the scripture to illuminate issues that communities are facing today and to spur parishioners to imagine and embody the world differently than before.
Faith leaders can take a similar approach when narrating the issue of hunger in their communities to break down commonly held stories about why people are hungry and the types of solutions that are needed. Through exposing the root causes of hunger, new narratives around hunger that promote creative, systemic changes can be uplifted. New stories have the opportunity to prioritize:
– Creative solutions
– Experiences of the marginalized
– Systemic change
– The power of partnership
What is the need? Why this program? Why now?
The pandemic has exposed more and more people in the US to hunger, and it has also exposed the fragility of our industrialized food system. Churches have a unique role to play in this setting, as many churches have food pantries, community meals, and other food programs as part of their outreach ministries. Through examining the narratives around hunger in their communities, as well as the root causes of hunger, faith leaders will be able to offer new and creative solutions to the issue of hunger within their communities.
What will participants gain from this program?
This fellowship will bring together faith leaders from across North Carolina to:
– Learn about the root causes of hunger
– Uncover and challenge the dominant narrative around why people are hungry
– Dive into theological frameworks underpinning food relief ministries and justice work
– Learn how story-based strategies can transform the conversation on hunger in communities
– Gain tools to implement new and creative strategies to end hunger in their communities in partnership with others
– Connect with other faith leaders and build relationships
Who are we looking for? Who is a good fit?
– Pastors, lay leaders, leaders of food ministries, and leaders of nonprofit faith-based organizations based in North Carolina may apply.
– No more than one person per church will be accepted into the program.
– Priority will be given to rural UMC faith leaders and congregants
– Faith leaders with food ministries as part of their church that want to change the story that is being told around hunger in their community and move the story and approaches from charity to justice.
– The application opens on October 21, 2020 and closes on December 8, 2020 at 5 pm.
– Participants will be chosen by a committee of RAFI-USA staff.
– Participants will be notified by December 18, 2020 of their acceptance into the program.
– Approximately 15-20 faith leaders will be selected.
The seven-month-long virtual training program will take place from January – July 2021. RAFI-USA is committed to supporting all individuals with accessibility needs, and we will do our best to accommodate family and community needs for all participants.
All participants are expected to be able to commit no more than 5 hours per month to the program, including virtual sessions and homework between sessions. Each virtual session will run for 2.5 hours maximum, with the exception of the January 28 kick-off session, which will run for 4.5 hours.
Dates of Virtual Sessions
January 28, 12:00 – 4:30 pm – Intro to Story-based Strategy Training with the Center for Story-based Strategy
February 25, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
March 25, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
April 22, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
May 20, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
June 24, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
July 22, 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Sessions will cover (but are not limited to) the following topics:
– The impact of racial inequities on hunger
– The ways that structural issues such as housing inequities and unfair wages impact hunger
– Creative solutions to hunger that communities have taken
– Theological frameworks for addressing the root causes of hunger
– How faith leaders can examine harmful narratives around hunger and offer new narratives in their place
– Participants must be able to attend all monthly calls.
– Participants must be able to commit about 5 hours a month to this program.
– Completion of readings and other homework before each session.
– Participants will be encouraged to debrief their learnings with another member of their church leadership each month.
Due to generous funding support, this program is free to attendees.
Please reach out to Michelle Osborne, Program Manager for Faith-based and Community Partnerships at [email protected] or 919-704-6920 with any questions.