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Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative

 

Mission:
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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Goals
  • 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.
Events

 

Sabbath Economics and Watershed Discipleship:
A Theology and Practice for A New Day

June 16 – 20, 2014
Warren Wilson College | Swannanoa, NC 

The interlocking crises of deepening climate change, resource exhaustion, and social disparity are stalking our history.  To truly face these crises is to commit ourselves, as Christians and citizens, to radical and urgent changes that are both profoundly political and personal.  The “Transition Movement” is shorthand for perceptions and practices that center on ecological and economic resiliency, restoration, and renewal.  What might a Transition Church look like in the coming decade? What does Christian discipleship have to do with  our local watershed, our farms and gardens, and the ecosystems on which all life depends? Using the witness of the biblical writers as our guide, this course will consider these questions over the span of five days.

The course will combine classroom learning, worship, eating together, and hands-on learning. Morning sessions will be led by renowned biblical scholar and activist Ched Meyers, who will focus on “watershed discipleship” as a guiding metaphor and theological frame of reference.  Afternoons will feature outdoor experiential education in local food gardens. Each day will be bookended with a short service of Psalms, music, and silent prayer (Lauds and Vespers) as a contemplative frame to begin and end our days together.  

>> Course Details and Registration

 

 

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