CBF leaders join pope's poverty prayer

National staff of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will join Catholics and other Christians around the world in a “wave of prayer” to end poverty.

By Bob Allen

Leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are endorsing Pope Francis’ “global wave of prayer” to end world hunger on Dec. 10.

On Tuesday, the CBFblog will highlight ministries of CBF field personnel working to end hunger around the world. CBF staff members in Decatur, Ga., will gather for prayer at noon with other organizations and leaders in the area.

devita parnell“We are challenging churches in our fellowship to sponsor impromptu or organized prayer events in their community on or around Dec. 10, even using their natural time of worship,” Devita Parnell, CBF networks manager, said in a news release.

Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, the global "wave of prayer" will begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones until it reaches American Samoa 24 hours and more than 164 countries later.

Pope Francis will offer his blessing and support for the Catholic Relief Services "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a five-minute video message.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a CBF partner, will join other leaders of the Circle of Protection at noon for prayer on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The Circle of Protection is composed of more than 65 heads of denominations, relief and development agencies working together to protect vital government programs for the poor and nearly poor.

Beckmann said the wave of prayer comes at a critical time when Congress is considering deeper cuts to SNAP or food stamps, the most successful anti-hunger program in the U.S.

“The United States is the richest country in the world yet it has among the highest rates of hunger,” Beckmann wrote in the Huffington Post. “Yet our congressional leaders are making hunger worse. They just cut the equivalent of 10 million meals a day from SNAP, more than what every church and charity in America provides on their own. Nearly 5 million of those meals were taken away from hungry American children, and a big chunk of the remainder was taken from the 900,000 veterans who rely on food stamps to avoid hunger.”

“Only this Congress would think the best way to balance our budget is by making our children and veterans go hungry,” Beckmann said. Additional cuts to SNAP currently under consideration could be four to five times as large as the ones that just went into effect, he said.

“One thing is clear,” Beckmann said. “We will not end hunger in America by slashing our most effective anti-hunger program that so many American families depend on as they seek to pull themselves out of this recession. Neither can they climb the ladders of opportunity if a key component of the safety net is in shreds.”

CBF hunger ministries are found in 20 nations across four continents, according to the news release. Along with encouraging Fellowship churches and individuals to join Catholics and other Christians in prayer, the press release suggests donations to the CBF Offering for Global Missions, which supports field personnel involved in humanitarian aid.