Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative


Renewing theological education for the 21st century, we equip religious leaders with the knowledge, skills,
and pastoral habits necessary to guide congregations and other faith-based organizations
into creating more redemptive food systems, where God’s
shalom becomes visible for a hungry world.

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  • Create courses across the curriculum emphasizing the themes of stewardship of and within Creation, and that highlight food’s pivotal place in that stewardship.
  • Equip students with the knowledge, skills, and experience so that they can lead on these issues in the church and not-for-profit ministries.
  • Develop research and publications across the core areas of theological education on these themes, and generate resources for faith communities who want to learn, worship, and serve more effectively as stewards of Creation and leaders in creating food systems that embody shalom.
  • Build partnerships in worship, service, and education around food issues within the university, with the Piedmont and Western mountain regions of North Carolina, and with national and international partners.
  • Teach and cultivate the theological habit that living in peace with the land and with non-human Creation is a core pastoral practice for religious leaders and the communities with whom they serve.


Bread in the Wilderness
A Summer Seminar on Food, Faith, and Ecological Well-Being

June 6 – 10, 2016
Warren Wilson College
Swannanoa, North Carolina

How can we think and act holistically about our interrelated challenges – ecological degradation, social inequity, and climate change – all of which find their focus around food? And for people of faith, how can we eat with a deeper sense of gratitude and communion? These are just some of the questions that will be explored in this annual 5-day course. Every morning we will explore the character of creation in the Bible, creation’s voice, its praise and lament, creation’s provision and abundance, creation’s wounds and renewal, and how you and I can join in God’s work for creation. In the afternoons we will explore, through three workshop tracks, how these ideas can be put into practice. All of this takes place in a beautiful mountain setting in one of the most diverse bioregions in the world.

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See the initiative’s past events.

Who We Serve

Clergy, congregations, divinity studentsfaith-based non-profits, community gardenersfood activists, and any faith leader confronting community health issues caused by substandard food systems.

From the Dean

Food — food access, food quality, food production — is one of the defining issues of this generation. The rapid growth of local food and farm-to-table movements has sparked a creative and essential conversation that links the revitalization of rural economies, food access for urban neighborhoods, and the health and well-being of all our communities. Connecting food and faith is about our care of the earth and of one another — the core realities of our vocations as children of God. We need to be educating religious leaders who understand that caring for creation is an essential pastoral practice in working for the kingdom of God.

Gail R. O’Day, Dean of the School of Divinity and Professor of New Testament and Preaching

From the Director

Over the past seven years, I’ve witnessed the rise of a new faith-based food movement. From congregation-supported community gardens to farmworker justice, there’s a deep desire among people of faith to reconnect with the sources of their daily bread and to those who produce it. Far from a passing trend, I believe this renewed interest in food, justice, and sustainability is driven by an even deeper hunger: the desire to see embodied what the biblical writers call shalom, that graced state of being that results from a right relationship between God, people, and the land. Our work with the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative is to support, nurture, and encourage that shalom.

Fred Bahnson, Director