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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.

  • 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.


An Evening with Vandana Shiva:
Challenges & Realities of Feeding the World

Tuesday, November 4 | 7:00 – 9:00pm
Wait Chapel | Wake Forest University

Dr. Vandana Shiva trained as a physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India.

In 1982, she founded an independent institute – the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun – dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade.

Dr. Shiva combines sharp intellectual inquiry with courageous activism, and her work spans teaching at universities worldwide to working with peasants in rural India. Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental ‘hero’ in 2003. In November 2010, Forbes Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe.

Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are nationally and internationally recognized. Her book Staying Alive dramatically shifts popular perceptions of Third World women. She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).

This keynote lecture is co-sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, WFU Office of Sustainability; the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability; Department of Biology; Department of Chemistry; Pro Humanitate Institute; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It is free and open to the public.

“An Evening with Vandana Shiva” is part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series. Our current farming methods affect more than just the produce and livestock that we grow. Sustainable agricultural practices can help us mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, adapt to an altered environment and increase our resilience as a species. But, the question remains, can sustainable agriculture feed the world? This provocative series investigates the foods that are central to our diets: who grows them, how they are grown, and what challenges and opportunities this holds for local, regional, and global food supplies.


Ecotones of the Spirit
a speaker & event series on the intersection
of ecology, spirituality, and food justice

This series will bring notable writers, theologians, and food activists to explore the intersecting issues of food justice, ecological resilience, and contemplative spirituality. The series begins on Thursday, March 19, and concludes with a half-day conference on Tuesday, April 14th.

Thursday, March 19,2015  |  7:00pm
Brendle Recital Hall, Scales Fine Arts Center | Wake Forest University

Pashon Murray, founder of Detroit Dirt: Urban Renewal From the Ground Up and a media fellow at MIT with Van Jones and others in the green jobs movement, will speak about food, faith, and the empowerment of underserved communities in Detroit through the creation of green jobs.

View Pashon’s famous video (a spoof off of this Cadillac ad):

Friday, March 20  |  7:00pm
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church  |  Asheville, NC

Pashon Murray will present the same talk from the March 19 event at Wake Forest University about food, faith, and the empowerment of underserved communities in Detroit through the creation of green jobs. 

Wednesday, March 25  |  7:00pm
Wait Chapel  |  Wake Forest University

Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of InterFaith Power & Light, will speak.

Thursday, March 26  |  11:00am
Davis Chapel, Wingate Hall  |  Wake Forest University

Rev. Sally Bingham will preach in the School of Divinity’s community worship service.

Tuesday, April 14  |  3:00 – 9:00pm
Brendle Recital Hall, Scales Fine Arts Center | Wake Forest University

This concluding half-day conference will feature various speakers including Dr. Douglas Christie, author of Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes on a Contemplative Ecology and Leah Kostamo, author of Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community. More information will be posted here later this winter.

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