More than 1,000 people of various religious affiliations joined leaders of more than 40 faith communities for an interfaith convocation on Tuesday to unite in a common conviction that no one should go hungry.
Hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., the "Hunger No More" event at Washington National Cathedral formed part of the One Table, Many Voices conference - a mobilization organized by Bread for the World and Call to Renewal to highlight issues of domestic and international hunger and to call on President Bush and the United States Congress to commit to eradicating poverty worldwide.
The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, described the convocation as an "unprecedented event" in the nation's history.
"This convocation is of God bigger than any one of us," Beckmann said, as reported by the Episcopal News Service. "God has made it possible in our time to reduce hunger and we need to get the job done."
"This is an age old dream but it is also an urgent opportunity," he added, according to the National Council Churches.
According to Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, who spoke Tuesday, around 852 million people face hunger every day and, even in a wealthy nation such as the United States, there are 36 million people who are "food insecure," almost 13 million of whom are children.
"Hunger in the U.S. has been on the rise for the last four years," Ndungane said as reported by the Episcopal News Service. "Yet with such need, proposals in the current budget debate to cut [federal government nutrition] programs and deprive hundreds of thousands of working families of food support, cannot be justified, and must be opposed."
Speaking about 2005 as a "kairos" moment a Greek term denoting special turning points or opportunities Ndungane explained that with the run-up to the G-8 Summit in July and the UN Millennium meeting in September, "there is everything to play for" and a real opportunity to make a difference.
"Now is the kairos moment when we start making hunger history," he said. "Now is the decisive point to which we will look back when we reach our goal of 'hunger no more.'"
Earlier that day, Ndungane joined Beckmann and the Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), at a news conference, during which Ndungane described the event as a historic and unique occasion "a time when faith leaders are able to unite, regardless of their differences, to issue a clarion call to the world."
Among the national and international religious leaders gathered for the event were National Council of Churches' General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, Associate General Secretary for Justice and Advocacy, the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell and Church World Service Executive Director, the Rev. Dr. John McCullough. Also gathered were leaders of several NCC member denominations including: Bishop George Walker, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Bishop Mark Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Jim Winkler, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church; Dr. William Hobgood, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Church of America; The Most Rev. Frank Griswold, The Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr. Cliff Kirkpatrick, Presbyterian Church (USA); Rev. Dr.Stephen Thurston, National Baptist Convention of America; Bishop Lawrence Reddick, III, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey, Alliance of Baptists; and Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Reformed Church in America.