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Is There A Link Between Our Diets and Our Faith?

By The Rev. Diane Ryder, Tehachapi Community Church, UCC

     Is there a link between our diets and our faith? And can we mindfully, faithfully eat cookies at synod?

     These and other questions were answered affirmatively when The Mindful and Faithful Eating Resolution sponsored by our Southern California Nevada Conference passed at General Synod 28 in Tampa, Florida on July 5th with a resounding 80.5% vote.  The resolution as submitted by our Conference was changed by Committee before it came to the floor of General Synod in at least two significant ways from the original: First, it highlights the need for children as well as adults to be educated about this important matter; and second, it encourages the use of existing curriculum as well as the potential development of future curriculum.

     The Resolution as passed calls upon the UCC Covenanted Ministries to encourage use of and/or develop Christian Education curriculum for both children and adults to explore the ways in which our diets affect God’s earth, God’s animals, our God-given bodies, and the needs and concerns of workers, as well as the ways that our food choices can reduce our ecological footprint on the earth, be respectful of human and animal welfare concerns, and provide healthy nourishment for our bodies.

     The Resolution recognizes that when it comes to food, one size fits some.  Nutritional needs, financial resources, access to food, and cultural norms are some of the reasons why one person may choose to eat mindfully and faithfully as a vegetarian while another may be equally mindful and faithful while eating healthy meat from animals that were humanely treated by workers receiving a fair wage.    

     In his introduction to the resolution as passed, committee chairperson Keith Scott said “In crafting this version – with all the periods, commas, colons and semicolons, we were even reminded not to put a period where God has placed a comma.” The Southern California Nevada Conference Delegate to the Committee noted that, unlike most Synod resolutions, this one applies to individuals as well as churches, Conferences, etc.    

     Due to the long-standing tradition of eating cookies at Synod, there was discussion about how to eat cookies mindfully at the next Synod to be hosted by our conference in Long Beach, California, in 2013. In addition to traditional cookies, some ideas under consideration include sugar-free, gluten-free, and peanut-free cookies as well as alternative snacks. All such ideas are welcome. 

     The Mindful and Faithful Eating Resolution can be found in its entirety on UCC.org or the website of the Tehachapi Community Church, its church of origin, at Tehachapi-ucc.org.  If you are interested in applying this resolution to your local Christian Education program, you can find free, downloadable curriculum entitled “Just Eating? Practicing Our Faith at the Table” at: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/hunger/practice-just-eating/.  It is also available for purchase in spiral bound form at a minimum price at the same website. Available versions include a leader’s guide, an adult handbook, a Middle School Version and a Spanish language version, each of which offers theological reflections, discussion questions, and suggestions for action. Call or email Rev. Diane Ryder at (661) 822-4105 or dianegryder@gmail.com for more information and ideas for glorifying God by eating mindfully and faithfully.

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