By Mark Kelly
NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund national partners will launch a new initiative during the June 10-11 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting that will continue the SBC’s unique “dollar in, dollar out” approach in the battle against hunger across North America and overseas.
Global Hunger Relief will maintain continuity with the purposes and focus of the World Hunger Fund while presenting the cause of hunger relief to a new generation, according to a memorandum of understanding affirmed by executive leaders of the seven stakeholders that promote and administer the World Hunger and approved by the SBC Executive Committee at its February 17-18, 2014, meeting. The memorandum of understanding was signed by Frank S. Page of the SBC Executive Committee, Russell D. Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Tom Elliff of the International Mission Board, Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board, Thom Rainer of LifeWay Christian Resources, Wanda S. Lee of Woman’s Missionary Union, and Jeff Palmer of Baptist Global Response.
More than 1 billion people around the world are hungry more often than not, and about 24,000 people — over half of them young children — die every day from various conditions that could have been alleviated by basic nutrition. Southern Baptist giving through the World Hunger Fund had been declining for more than a decade before rebounding a bit in 2011 and 2012.
Global Hunger Relief seeks to take the WHF’s unique “dollar in, dollar out” message to new and wider audiences — and challenge a new generation of believers to personally take Jesus’ love to starving souls, in both word and deed.
Southern Baptists have a tremendously effective approach to loving their neighbors through hunger ministries. While some groups keep as much as 70 percent of their donations to cover overhead, donations through Global Hunger Relief go directly to the actual need.
Sending 100 percent of each donation to service projects is possible because Southern Baptists support their mission endeavors by giving through their Cooperative Program. Most overhead costs for “boots on the ground” efforts are already covered by Cooperative Program gifts.
In addition, because hunger donations are channeled through the International and North American mission boards, those funds become a vital part of Southern Baptist mission strategies to impact the world for Christ.
Global Hunger Relief will follow precisely the same guidelines used with the World Hunger Fund. As with the WHF, funds will continue to be distributed 80-20 between international and North American causes. The hope is that a new name and fresh look will revitalize conversations about the global hunger crisis and raise awareness about the effective efforts Southern Baptists are making to help people in need experience the life-changing love of God.
The World Hunger Fund was organized to help Southern Baptists respond to the horrible famine in Ethiopia during the mid-1980s. By 1998, more than $8.5 million annually was flowing into hunger relief efforts worldwide, but by 2010 donations had dwindled to barely $5.4 million. The lack of funding happened at a time when hunger relief efforts were becoming even more strategic for Southern Baptist initiatives among unreached and impoverished people groups.
In 2012, Southern Baptists gave $7.471 million through the World Hunger Fund, primarily through promotion of World Hunger Sunday, which is held on the second Sunday of October each year. In 2014, World Hunger Sunday will be observed Oct. 12.
The Global Hunger Relief campaign will be supported by a new website, www.GlobalHungerRelief.com, and social media presences are being created on Facebook and Twitter. Resources for fighting global hunger also are available through the websites of the national WHF/GHR partners: www.erlc.com, www.namb.net, www.imb.org, www.gobgr.org, www.wmu.com, www.lifeway.com and www.sbc.net.
The full text of the memorandum being presented to the SBC annual meeting follows:
“We the undersigned, representing the major stakeholders in promoting and administering the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, affirm this Memorandum of Understanding that Global Hunger Relief, trademarked by the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is the successor in fact of the Convention-approved World Hunger Fund. Global Hunger Relief is designed to maintain continuity with the Convention-approved purposes and focus of the World Hunger Fund while seeking to lift up the needs of hunger relief to a new generation of Southern Baptists. The singular purpose of Global Hunger Relief is identical to its predecessor, World Hunger Fund, namely to provide a Convention-approved fund through which Southern Baptists and others may give to help meet hunger needs of any person or group of persons wherever they may reside, with administrative and distribution costs borne through our Cooperative Program partners. Global Hunger Relief gifts will be distributed 80 percent for overseas hunger relief and 20 percent for hunger relief in the United States and Canada unless and until changed by Convention action.”
Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).