Member Profile: Paul Theiss and Nancy Satterford
Passionate About the Problem of Hunger
Raised in California's agricultural San Joaquin Valley, Rev. Paul Theiss remembers his family experienced some "belt tightening" during his early years. But others were much worse off. He still has vivid memories of classmates without enough to eat.
"San Joaquin was the second richest agricultural county in the nation, yet 50 percent lived below the poverty line," he recalls.
Today, Paul Theiss — a veteran leader of five Lutheran congregations — makes his home in Rogers, Ark., with his wife of 42 years, Nancy Satterford. Although Paul has served as pastor at Peace Lutheran Church for fewer than two years, the congregation has held two Bread for the World Offerings of Letters and is already planning a third.
Paul and Nancy first learned about Bread for the World as a young married couple. Since then, Paul says he's introduced the organization to every congregation he's led.
But even before that, the couple began building their legacy of ensuring food for hungry people. During their years attending seminary, they participated in University Lutheran Chapel's large feeding program, which served street people in Berkeley, CA. To gather enough food, Nancy and Paul developed relationships with restaurants and stores — and they even did some "dumpster diving" for the cause.
After their first child was born, Paul and Nancy created an estate plan. Their will included a provision of five percent to support Bread's mission. The couple has changed and updated their estate plan in the years since, but the five percent remains.
"We feel as good about our decision today as we did back then," says Nancy.
Paul concurs. "From the beginning, we found Bread's focus on advocacy appealing," he says. "It's also unique: the focus in many churches is on feeding people directly, which is obviously very important."
The couple's approach to feeding hungry people is also unique. Their three children were all born during the mid-1970s, when Paul led Lutheran congregations in San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin and blue collar Ingleside districts.
"By the time the third child came along," Nancy remembers, "our church wanted to throw us a big baby shower. But having had two children, we really needed nothing. We came up with the idea of a food shower to feed hungry people instead."
In every congregation where they have served, the couple has introduced and encouraged support for Bread's mission to end hunger. "And in every case, we found people passionate about the problem of hunger," says Nancy.