National Lutheran News

New hunger curriculum explores “root” solutions

A new Christian education curriculum aims to help students explore the root
causes and root solutions to world hunger. Produced under the auspices of
ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) World Hunger, it is titled
“Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes.” It became available to
congregations December 15, 2008, through Augsburg Fortress, the
publishing arm of the ELCA.

Curriculum author is the Rev. Stacy Johnson, formerly associate pastor of
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis for eight years and
currently Christian education director at First Congregational (UCC) Church in
River Falls, Wisconsin. She holds a Ph. D. degree in Christian education from
Northwestern University and Garrett Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Johnson says the curriculum reflects ELCA World Hunger’s commitment to
educating children and helping them understand issues facing them. “Hunger
will end when people understand and look at the world through Biblical
perspective,” she stated. The end of hunger will come when the human family
changes the way it understands hunger and poverty and defines it as both
unacceptable and solvable, according to a brochure on the curriculum.

Nancy Arnison, director of ELCA World Hunger, had this to say, “We are
thrilled about the new curriculum and think that congregations will love it.
Lutherans have long been leaders in the fight against hunger and now we
have new ways — through this curriculum — to engage our youth to fight the
scandal of poverty and hunger throughout the world and close to home. The
new curriculum is theological, conversational, and interactive. It engages
teachers, students, and families to think deeply about the root causes and
solutions to hunger, and provides concrete steps for bold and faithful action.”

The curriculum is available for three different age groupings: ages 3-6, junior
high, and senior high. Each of five different lessons in each series focuses on
scriptural texts which are correlated to contemporary children’s stories. Each
is rich in activities and images designed to generate discussion.

The curriculum project was about two years in development. Pastor Johnson
was hired to develop the project from the ground up, serving as both author
and project manager. There was a natural comfort level from the start since
Arnison had been a member of Holy Trinity when Johnson was an associate
pastor there.

Pastor Johnson worked with a Chicago-based artist on the project, utilizing
technology to minimize travel time and cost. Artwork figures prominently in
the presentation.

“We know there are congregations waiting for the curriculum,” Johnson
commented, “It’s a topic congregations are concerned about. Through the
curriculum, we’re asking kids to think critically about hunger.”

“We see the curriculum being used for Sunday schools, vacation Bible school,
Advent and Lenten gatherings with some components suitable for adult
education programs,” Johnson remarked. “Pastors and educators will both be
able to use the curriculum.” There are materials for five sessions in each of
the three curriculum levels, and all are interrelated. With two-hour sessions,
that would total 10 hours of study on the topic of world hunger causes and
solutions.

Ecumenical interest in the curriculum is anticipated, Johnson said. And, the
printed curriculum will be supplemented by interactive follow-up in which
she will answer questions.

A promotional brochure states, “One of the goals of ‘Taking Root’ is to help
children and young people understand the importance of being a faithful
steward as an individual and as a whole church. Five specific development
projects funded through ELCA World Hunger are highlighted in the ‘Giving
Root’ portion of the curriculum.”

Free “Taking Root” introductory packets are available. They include a leaders’
guide, a sample of student newspapers that are part of the curriculum, a
promotional poster, and stickers for use in the congregation. Requests may
be made to Augsburg Fortress Publishers at www.augsburgfortress.org, by
calling toll free to 800/328-4648, or by sending a request to Augsburg
Fortress Publishers, P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209.