May 27, 2014

Bread for the World Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Performance of Lazarus

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World will kick off its 40th anniversary celebration with a performance of Lazarus: The Musical at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on May 31, 2014. The musical is based on the New Testament parable in Luke 16 about a poor man at a rich man’s gate.

“Lazarus is more than just the re-enactment of a story,” said Bishop Don Williams, associate for African-American church relations at Bread for the World and co-producer of the musical. “It is an expression of the problem of hunger in our world and an opportunity for all of us to renew our faith and determination to end this injustice.”

Originally composed in the mid-1980s by Rev. Joel Underwood, Bread for the World’s then-director of church relations, Lazarus brings to life the story of a rich man and a beggar, highlighting how extreme wealth and poverty rub against each other. With 16 original songs, LazarusLazarus challenges audiences through plot twists that evoke new perspectives on hunger. The original run was performed in the United States, El Salvador, Australia, India, Egypt, and other countries.

“When Joel left, Lazarus went by the wayside, but I still saw potential in it,” added Williams. “The arts—and music in particular—provide us with another resource to reach people with God’s love. It’s also an effective tool for engaging more people in advocacy.”

Williams engaged his friend, noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings, to re-arrange and update Lazarus.  The new version was performed at Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering and in New York City earlier this year.

“Music has changed since the debut of Lazarus, so I wanted to make sure that—from the very first song—the melodic and harmonic structure felt contemporary” said Cummings. “I hope this fresh take on a classic story will lend a new perspective to the fight against hunger, and bring more people to faith in the process.”

The performance also commemorates Williams’ 26th anniversary working for Bread for the World as well as his retirement.

“I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Bread for the World in the fight to end hunger,” said Williams. “As I prepare to retire, it’s wonderful to know that my work will continue to touch people through the arts with Lazarus. I hope it will inspire more people to take action.”

The musical is the first of many events this summer that will celebrate Bread’s 40th anniversary, including the National Gathering and Lobby Day.

from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Fact Sheet: Hunger by the Numbers

    In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.


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