Advocating in Uncertain Times

iStock photo by ThamKC

By Jennifer Gonzalez

As Bread members prepare to participate in the 2020 Virtual Advocacy Summit: Our Faith, Our Future next week, our nation is hurting.

Hundreds of people have poured into the streets across the country to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody—just the latest in a long string of deaths of African Americans at the hands of police.

Our country continues to live through a global pandemic. The United States has been hit hardest among all nations—with more than a 1 million Americans infected and more than 100,000 dead. Black and brown communities are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus.

Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic forced the U.S. economy to shut down in March. And in some cities, lines of cars stretched for miles as families made their way to local food banks.

“Hunger has surged in our country and around the world. Our hearts are heavy,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

He continued, “But our faith-grounded advocacy is needed now more than ever. Our loving God calls us to help meet the great needs of this moment and push toward the future God has in store.”

This year’s Virtual Advocacy Summit: Our Faith, Our Future may be the most consequential advocacy effort Bread has undertaken in recent years. The urgency of our work together is paramount as the pandemic threatens to reverse the gains made on hunger and poverty in the past decades.

Bread members can learn about the issues they can advocate on by attending the Legislative Briefing and Q&A on Tuesday, June 9.

The pandemic has made gatherings impossible—so in-person meetings with members of Congress or their staff are not possible right now. But that doesn’t mean the work stops. Consider attending the “Advocating Alone Together” workshop on Monday, June 8 to learn how to advocate from the comfort of your own home.

“We need to learn how to be effective advocates in a time of social distancing,” said Margaret Tran, a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World. “The basics of advocacy like storytelling that we apply in-person can be applied virtually to effectively ensure our voices are heard in Congress.”

Our country seems more partisan than ever. But Bread has always been committed to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The “Healing the Divide” workshop will highlight the origins of our political divide and will offer Christian principles and practices to build bridges with people who hold differing political views.

“The growing political divide in our country has made it nearly impossible for our leaders to work together and has made us suspicious of people who look and think differently than we do,” said Zach Schmidt, a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World. “We all know that something needs to change, and that change must start with us.”

As with previous years, there will be a Latino Leaders Convening and a Pan African Consultation. Both will be livestreamed on Monday, June 8. The Convening will explore the intersectionality of hunger, migration, and resilience among Latino communities in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Consultation will focus on economic justice as a hunger issue in this season of COVID-19 and its implications for engaging in the 2020 elections and 2020 census.

This year’s Advocacy Summit will be unique because it will be bookended with messages from Bread’s current president, Rev. David Beckmann, who will retire at the end of June, and his successor, Rev. Eugene Cho. He begins his role on July 1.

“If we’re honest, we’re all tired, discouraged, and angry. Our hearts are broken and heavy,” Cho said. “It’s important to take time to grieve and lament but may we not let these convictions pass without action. Our mission and work to end hunger and poverty is as important as ever.”

He added: “As people of faith in Christ, let’s pursue the Kingdom of God together. We need your voice. Let’s raise our voices together.”

For complete information, visit the 2020 Virtual Advocacy Summit: Our Faith, Our Future webpage.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the managing editor at Bread for the World.

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