Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fasting initiative focuses on world’s vulnerable.

The Peace Witness Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, located in Washington, D.C., and the Global Food Crisis Fund are highlighting a fasting initiative scheduled to begin March 28.

Appealing to Americans to seek divine guidance by humbling themselves before God, hunger advocate Tony Hall announced he will begin a spiritual fast on March 28 to reflect on the condition of the poor and hungry in the US and around the world. He is inviting others to join personally and collectively in the venture.

Concerned over the impact of rising food and energy prices and Congressional budget cuts on the poor, the former Ohio Congressman envisions collective fasting and prayer forming "a circle of protection" around the vulnerable people of the world.

The Peace Witness Ministries office for the past several months has been calling on church members to contact their representatives in Congress on issues ranging from the federal budget to the situation of the Gulf Coast, from the war in Afghanistan to gun violence. "What is perhaps even more important, however, is that these actions grow out of our spiritual practices, and be grounded in a sense of worship," said advocacy officer Jordan Blevins.

In 1993 Hall fasted for 22 days to call attention to what he termed "the lack of conscience in the US Congress for hungry people." "But," he reflected, "everything we planned didn’t work, but what did work was greater than anything we planned."

"What fasting is about is God--putting God first," he continued. "It’s way beyond us. We need to humble ourselves and get out of the way. When you both fast and pray, fasting puts a real edge to your prayers."

Hall invites those who join with him to define for themselves what sacrificial participation means. Where the fasting leads and how long it will go on are unknown, but what is known is the fervor that Hall has "to grow the circle" around the country.

With support from the Alliance to End Hunger, the organization that Hall heads, along with Bread for the World, Sojourners, World Vision, and a host of other organizations engaged in hunger advocacy and action, the focus on fasting will utilize the social media. The fast will be announced at a prayer vigil on Capitol Hill in partnership with Ecumenical Advocacy Days, where more than 600 Christians will gather.

An action alert from Peace Witness Ministries at provides information about Ecumenical Advocacy Days. The website spells out principles, rationale, and platform for the fast. Bread for the World offers a guide to fasting as a spiritual discipline at

-- Jordan Blevins and Howard Royer provided this information. Royer manages the Global Food Crisis Fund and participated in a March 15 conference call in which Hall and Alliance staff convened leaders of faith-related hunger groups. He welcomes ideas about how Brethren may take part in the fast, contact or 800-323-8039 ext. 264. Blevins is advocacy officer and ecumenical peace coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and the NCC. For information about worship and advocacy opportunities contact him at

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