CHIANG MAI: The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) jointly organised an online prayer service on World Food Day, 16 October 2020.
The online prayer service, with the participation of representatives from the CCA and WCC member churches and councils from across Asia, was an opportunity to reflect on the urgency of responding for much-needed advocacy to address the alarming trend of food insecurity.
In his introductory address, the General Secretary of the CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara said, “We all have a role to play in the ‘Food for Life’ campaign. On this World Food Day, let us be aware and vigilant of the profound impacts we make through our choice of food. This moment calls the attention of the churches to promote sustainable and life-giving agricultural practices that will preserve the earth’s natural resources, health, and the environment.”
The CCA General Secretary further stated that the online prayer service was also an occasion for the Asian churches to pray together for the farmers and agricultural labourers who produce varieties of food items, those who transport the produce to markets, the traders who sell the products, and all those who are involved in making the food available to everyone.
“We need to be reminded that we all have a role to play in the Food for Life campaign; we must not let sustainable habits fall by the wayside, despite the uncertainty of the pandemic,” said Dr Mathews George Chunakara.
The interim General Secretary of the WCC, Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, in his address to the participants, explained the component of “togetherness” in the theme of World Food Day and said that no one was to be left behind.
Fr. Sauca spoke of three aspects related to food—food that was sustaining, food as being spiritual, and food that needed to be shared with all.
“Food is the umbilical cord to nature that can never be severed. We must be responsible and aware that food is meant to be shared, not simply consumed or hoarded—food should not be used for profit or to exploit the vulnerable,” the WCC interim General Secretary added.
Sofia Monsalve Suarez, the Secretary-General of FIAN International, a human rights organisation that works for the right to food and nutrition, delivered the biblical reflections during the virtual service.
Ms Suarez highlighted the interrelatedness of the global food shortage with other violations of human rights, and also how the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the manner in which industrialised global food systems were contributing to ecological destruction, leading to the emergence of zoonotic diseases, and were perpetuating the vulnerability of infections due to unhealthy food and living environments.
“In the course of 2020, we have gone through experiences of discomfort, uncertainty, disquiet, and anxiety. Although the challenges we face overwhelm us, let us be comforted by the verses from Isaiah 43:18–19— ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’ We need open eyes, open ears, open arms, and open hearts to recognise the streams in the wasteland…God is indeed doing a new thing,” said Ms Suarez.
The facilitators of the online prayer service representing the member churches and councils of the CCA and WCC in Asia included: Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang (Gereja Toraja Indonesia, member of WCC Central Committee); Rev. Dr Kim Sungjae (General Secretary, National Christian Council in Japan); Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey (Church of Ceylon, Member of CCA Executive and WCC Central Committees); Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters (Church of Pakistan); Roma Ann Nisha Prodhan (Church of North India, member of WCC Central Committee); Rev. Kingphet Thammavong (Lao Evangelical Church, member of CCA Executive Committee); Nirmala Gurung (National Council of Churches in Nepal, member of CCA Executive Committee); Rev. Irma Balaba (National Council of Churches in the Philippines); Kaythi Min Din (Myanmar Council of Churches); and Dymeas Sovy (Kampuchea Christian Council in Cambodia).
The full text of the World Food Day–2020 liturgy can be accessed here: https://www.cca.org.hk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/World-Food-Day-2020-Liturgy-of-Virtual-Service.pdf
Watch the proceedings of the World Food Day–2020 virtual service on our social media: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianConferenceofAsia/videos/348122623128534