Festival, Crop Walk combine for local hunger awareness

By on October 12, 2011

By: ROCHELLE A. SHENK Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

"Food, Faith and Hunger" is this year’s theme for Akron Mennonite Church’s annual Mission Festival on Oct. 15, and it carries through to the following day with the annual Akron/Ephrata CROP Walk.

Bob Wyble, chair of the outreach commission of Akron Mennonite Church, said that the church is hoping to create an awareness of hunger and the ways that people can help alleviate the issue on a local, national and international level.

"We choose a different theme each year as a way to focus our outreach efforts. With this year’s theme, we hope to encourage people to simplify their consumption and use what’s produced locally," he said.

The Mission Festival weekend features a dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Ephrata Rec Center, 130 S. Academy Drive, Ephrata.

The Rev. Dr. Craig Goodwin, a Presbyterian pastor in Spokane, Wash., and author of "Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living," will speak on the theme "Food, Faith and Hunger." His work in the area of creation care and food justice has been featured on NPR, PBS and in the New York Times. He is a food and justice fellow with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a national consultant with the faith outreach arm of the Humane Society.

In "Year of Plenty", he shares the winsome story of how an average suburban family stumbled onto the cultural cutting edge of locavores, backyard chickens, farmers markets, simple living and going green.

"We launched the year-long experiment in January of 2008 because we were hoping to find more meaningful patterns of consumption. At the time it was an act of desperation. As pastors and parents we were burned out from the rush of consumerism that dominated our lives through the Christmas season and were eager for a different rhythm in our lives," he said via e-mail on Tuesday.

Rev. Goodwin explained that in 2008 he and his family limited their "local" purchasing to eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Although the family continues to follow the patterns that were set during that year — eating locally, gardening and nurturing friendships with local farmers and artisans –they are not as strict in the way they define local.

"One of the big lessons for us is that just because certain patterns of consumption are considered ‘normal’ doesn’t mean that we have to follow the road most traveled. Along with that we learned that it wasn’t too difficult to establish a new normal in our lives, even as crazy as it may have sounded when we initially started the year. We launched our year with three days of preparation, but will carry the lessons we learned for the rest of our lives," he said.

Rev. Goodwin also has a local connection — he was a classmate of the Akron Mennonite Church lead pastor, the Rev. Jim Amstutz, when they were doing graduate work in California.

In a nod to Rev. Goodwin’s message, the meal will feature locally grown food. The dinner also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Ephrata Area Social Services (EASS).

"We work with EASS on an ongoing basis and want to partner with them in their celebration," Wyble said.

He noted that the Saturday evening meal is open to all individuals from churches in the Akron/Ephrata area as well as community members. Wyble said that in past years approximately 100 persons have attended the Mission Festival, but since other churches and the community have been invited, he’s hoping to increase attendance to 300.

Cost to attend this dinner event is $10 per person. Registration is required, and registration information is available at EASS, 227 N. State St., Ephrata. For further information, contact Bob Wyble at 733-4939.

Prior to the meal, Rev Goodwin will be doing a book signing at Ten Thousand Villages from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday. He will also deliver the sermon at Akron Mennonite Church, 1311 Diamond St., Akron, on Oct. 16 at 9 a.m. and provide further information during discipleship hour followed by a question and answer session.

The Missions Festival weekend concludes with the Akron/Ephrata CROP Walk, which begins at 1 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the Ephrata Church of the Brethren, 201 Crescent Ave., Ephrata. CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world. EASS is one the local beneficiaries of the Akron/Ephrata CROP Walk.

Wyble said that information about the CROP Walk and the opportunity to donate funds for the event will be available at Saturday’s dinner.

"We’re hoping to encourage youth groups to participate in the CROP Walk this year," he said.

To participate in the Akron/Ephrata CROP Walk, contact Delores Neuber at 733-8818 or dgn@dejazzd.com.

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