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Baptists Fight Hunger—CBF partner Seeds of Hope reflects on long history of hunger ministry

Welcome to our blog series—At the Table: Baptist Fight Hunger

Part 9 is by Katherine Cook, editor of Seeds of Hope Publishers, a ministry partner of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship since its inception 22 years ago.

By Katherine Cook

Way back in 1977, a mission group at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., came together with a common burden for people living with hunger and poverty. A couple of members of that group sent out a mimeographed one-page newsletter to 600 Baptists.

Thus, in that quiet manner, the Seeds ministry was born.Seeds logo-color

That group organized around the effort to push fellow Baptists to respond to hunger issues. They organized one of the first denominational convocations on world hunger and were largely responsible for hunger emphases among Baptists in the Southern U.S.

In 1979, the group began publishing the award-winning Seeds Magazine and the supplement Sprouts. They helped to start hundreds of soup kitchens across the country—as well as night shelters, food pantries and hunger-education retreats for young people. They also led international study tours and raked in a dozen awards for their work.

Sometime toward the end of the 1980s, the Seeds work in Decatur began winding down. The founding editors were dispersed to other ministries and the Oakhurst congregation was feeling called to different purposes. A group of people in Waco, Texas, decided that they didn’t want Seeds to die, so they began a time of discernment and communication with the folks in Decatur.

As a result, Seeds of Hope, Inc. was formed in Waco in 1991, and the Seeds ministry moved onto the campus of Seventh & James Baptist Church in Waco. As the prospective editor, I was pleased—and am still a little astonished—that this happened with the blessing of the Oakhurst congregation and the founding editors. (They actually held a blessing service in Decatur.)

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was founded that same year, and Seeds has been fortunate to be included as a CBF ministry partner since the very beginning.

We published a sequel to the Roots of Hope hunger-meditation book in 1991, and the first issues of Seeds Magazine and Sprouts from Texas came out in 1992. A few years later, we published a sequel to A Guide to Hunger Organizations. In 1994, we made our first, feeble steps into the online world—with help from CBF and Smyth & Helwys Publishing.

By 1997, the landscape of the publishing world was shifting under our feet, and we were finding it difficult to continue printing the magazine. Then we entered another season of discernment.

We started by making an informal phone survey from our list of subscribers. We asked them what they were going to miss the most from Seeds Magazine and Sprouts, and many of them said, “We need worship resources that will help us lead our congregations into awareness of economic-justice and food-security issues.”Advent2010p19

So we began to create Sacred Seasons, a series of worship resource packets (three per year—one for Advent & Christmastide, one for Lent & Eastertide and one for a hunger emphasis) with a biblical emphasis on justice issues, particularly hunger and poverty.

About 10 years’ worth of Sacred Seasons packets back are posted on the Seeds website and subscribers continue to receive new, fresh resources. One outgrowth of the Sacred Seasons Lenten packets is the popular Easter Walk drama for children, a set of monologues of the last week of Jesus’ life; and With Our Own Eyes, a set of monologues about the resurrection appearances in the gospels. We also posted Developing a Heart for the Hungry: A Hunger Emphasis Primer for Beginning Churches, which we do our best to keep updated.

About six months after Seeds Magazine and Sprouts stopped going out, the staff received a phone call from an interfaith consortium of hunger educators. They said, “We miss Seeds.”

“So do we,” I said.

We then began negotiations for a partnership that would produce Hunger News & Hope, a newsletter that the consortium distributed to their denominations in different ways. Because of their sponsorship and funding from CBF, we have been able to distribute Hunger News & Hope without charge for 13 years.HNH 13-3 cover (2)

We received funding from the American Baptists to produce three peace services. With the help of the Alliance of Baptists, we created a collection of hunger sermons called Speaking of Hunger, and Hope Is in Our Hands, a collection of hunger activities for youth and children. All of these resources are still available on our website.

As we say in one of our flyers, all of this is carried out by a staff of one on halftime salary, a host of volunteers and a ridiculously modest budget.

We are still amazed and delighted that the ministry continues in these new forms, although it means sacrifice and hard work much of the time. We have a strong determination to discern and respond to God’s leading.

In preparing for one of our most crucial meetings, during which we were wondering if we should close down our shop, I was looking for something to use for a devotional. I came across a meditation on the call of the prophet Isaiah, written by Frederick Buechner.

In the meditation, Isaiah asks God, “How long should I do this?”

The answer, in Buechner’s paraphrase, is “Do it ’til the cows come home. Do it ‘til Hell freezes over.”

I read this to the group that evening, and we all decided that it must be a sign from God.

Learn more about and support Seeds of Hope Publishers here.

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1 — At the Table: Baptists Fight HungerA CBFblog series

Part 2 — FBC Winston-Salem feeds bodies and souls with backpack ministry

Part 3 — South Carolina church models missional engagement with God’s Garden

Part 4 — New monastic activist Shane Claiborne spurs rural church to start community garden

Part 5 — How to be missional? Little Rock church hosts Farmers Market

Part 6 — Florida church strives to be presence of Christ and meet needs of their community

Part 7 — The Cleveland County Potato Project

Part 8 — Mosaic Community Garden as a place of acceptance for all


6 thoughts on “Baptists Fight Hunger—CBF partner Seeds of Hope reflects on long history of hunger ministry

  1. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Distributing food with dignity in Eastern North Carolina | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  2. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—40 years later, FBC Jonesboro still feeding thousands in Arkansas | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  3. Pingback: At the Table: Baptists Fight Hunger—A CBFblog series (Part 1) | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  4. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Westwood Baptist responds to empty shelves at local food pantry | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  5. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Starting a conversation about nutrition, not just hunger | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  6. Pingback: Richmond’s Huguenot Road Baptist focuses on being Christ’s presence in overlooked places | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

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