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Breakfast Cereal and Christianity: The Intertwining of Food and Faith

by Rev. Diane Gallo Ryder, Tehachapi Community Church

     What does our breakfast cereal have to do with our Christianity?  How are food and faith intertwined?  Is the body of Christ affected by the flesh of animals we eat in order to strengthen ourselves to do mission and ministry?  These and other such questions are an invitation to consider the Resolution for Mindful and Faithful Eating which our Southern California/Nevada Conference is working to have presented to General Synod 2011.  The resolution originated in the Tehachapi Community Congregational United Church of Christ, where it was passed in early 2009 with the recommendation that it be presented to the Northern Association.  Subsequently, both the Association and the Conference passed the resolution at their respective spring meetings and the excitement continues as we prepare the resolution for consideration by the Synod Resolutions Committee.  You can find the full text of the resolution on our Conference website,  www.scncucc.org,  or the website of the Tehachapi church, www.tehachapi-ucc.org.

     The Mindful and Faithful Eating resolution starts from the premise that everything we do, including eating, is an avenue to God and an opportunity to express our faith.  As a matter of stewardship, we humans are responsible for our own bodies and for the totality of our environment and all living things  (see Genesis 2:15, I Corinthians 6:19 and James 5:4, for example). The resolution recognizes that our Christian unity transcends dietary differences (Romans 14: 20-21). Thus, vegetarianism is presented as only one possible avenue among many ways to eat mindfully and faithfully.  A few criteria for eating conscientiously include:

  • Was the meat we eat raised in uncrowded, healthy conditions?
  • Did the workers in the agribusiness where our vegetables were grown receive a fair wage and decent working conditions?
  • Was water used wastefully in the production of a given food?

     These and other such questions are especially vital in our California churches and businesses.

     It is a joy to discover that many individuals and churches in our Conference are already engaging in mindful and faithful eating practices and it is my hope, through this article, to invite people throughout the Conference to share their experiences and their tips for eating mindfully.  Some such practices include:
– labeling all dishes at potlucks and/or ingredients so that persons with allergies or vegetarians may make informed choices;

  • sharing excess perishable food with one another seasonally.  (Does anyone have a recipe for 100 tomatoes?)
  • donating food, especially fresh food, to local food pantries so that hungry and homeless people will not need to rely upon highly processed foods alone;
  • encouraging church members to carry their own coffee cups, plates, tableware, etc. to and from coffee hour in order to reduce the church’s dependence upon water.
  • researching the respective amount of water usage and landfill impact for dishwashed cups vs. styrofoam cup.
  • creating childrens messages for worship and/or Sunday School which encourage children to think about the origins and value of food
  • buying and sharing Donna Shaper’s book, Sacred Chow.
  • contacting me for a long list of print and web-based resources about the interface between faith and food

Please email me with questions, concerns and comments about this article and about the Mindful and Faithful Eating Resolution.  And please let me know about your creative ideas for linking your food and your faith.

Rev. Diane Gallo Ryder
dianegryder@sbcglobal.net
(661) 822-4443

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