WASHINGTON – Thousands of believers from different faith groups united with the common goal of eliminating world hunger at the famed Washington National Cathedral on Monday.
The second annual Interfaith Convocation on Hunger brought together pastors, rabbis, imams, and people of faith to call on Congress and the president to renew their commitment to end hunger.
"You can't connect with God if you walk away from hunger or if you don't take it seriously," declared the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, the.anti-poverty Christian group that organized the convocation.
The convocation was part of The Gathering 2007, a national Christian conference that seeks to mobilize and build a stronger network among Christians to end hunger.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, president of The National Baptist Convention USA, delivered the featured message using the parable of the rich man and Lazarus interpreted through the lens of the anti-hunger campaign.
Shaw noted that when alive, one man was living well while the other was not. However both were men, and both died.
The poor man Lazarus would lie at the gate of the rich man and only desire crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.
"Not leftovers … but crumbs that accidentally fall from the table," Shaw noted. "No desire for a place at the table. No desire for even a table of his own. Just crumbs.
"Look what poverty can do to the psyche of a person," Shaw said connecting the biblical parable to modern poverty and hunger and their effects on poor people.
Shaw called poverty and hunger not an issue of capital but rather one of morality and justice, and urged those in attendance to raise the issue and take action.
Other faith leader who participated in the interfaith convocation included Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, national commander of The Salvation Army; the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University; and Rabbi Jack Moline, chair of the Interfaith Alliance & Social Actions of The Rabbinical Assembly.
The Gathering 2007 participants will end their four-day event with a Capitol Hill Lobby Day on Tuesday.