Dear United Church of Canada faith family,

I appeal to your compassion, your desire for justice, and your shared humanity with all God’s children. Our neighbours need us—they need our prayers, our solidarity, and our commitment to work together for our common well-being.

The All Africa Council of Churches, in collaboration with the World Council of Churches, has named May 21, 2017, a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine.

The United Nations has named the extreme hunger and famine in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, and Yemen the greatest humanitarian crisis to face the world since 1945. The numbers are staggering. Twenty million at risk of starvation. Millions more suffering from drought and food shortages. Global partners in the region remind us that the ongoing impact of extended drought and now, in some parts of southern Africa, flooding continues to create local and regional food shortages. The need calls for rapid and effective global response.

To date, the global response to this crisis has been inadequate, needlessly placing millions of people at risk of unimaginable suffering and death.

As a world community and as people of faith we are called to care for our neighbours, to protect their lives and their dignity, as we would our own. Contributing to the United Church of Canada Appeal for Extreme Hunger is one way to embody that compassionate response. Funds raised in that appeal support work on the ground to deliver much-needed food assistance and other emergency needs.

As church we are called to much more. We must understand how it is that farmers cannot farm and people cannot grow the food they need. We need to listen to the voices of those who are suffering, to recognize their resilience, and to honour their solutions.

Small-scale farmers supply the majority of food in Africa. Climate change has created a devastating and prolonged drought, resulting in both water and food shortages. Predictable weather patterns that meant people knew when and what to plant no longer hold. Ongoing conflict in some parts of the world mean people are displaced as violence forces many families to flee their homes, farms, and livelihoods.

The General Secretary of the Organization of African Instituted Churches, Nicta Lubaale, has this to say:

“Repetitive famines require a response that will help to deal with climate change and other causes not anymore as boardroom issues. We must work towards pragmatic policy initiatives that work for the people who are most vulnerable…. We can’t afford to live with the indignity of hunger. We have to do much more.”

Please join me and others around the world on May 21, 2017, in praying for an end to hunger and the war, poverty, and degradation of creation that are so often at its root.

Prayer is powerful. As we pray for those who suffer starvation, we invite God to transform us as well—to grant us the wisdom, courage, and compassion to become advocates and agents of change in the world. May our prayers ignite God’s Spirit among us and mobilize people here and around the world to work together to bring about peace and an end to hunger and violence!

Yours in faith and hope,

The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell
Moderator, The United Church of Canada