Through our ARC Program, we are learning and perfecting a process of bringing Black church leaders and Black farmers together in partnership. Up to this point, we’ve put laser focus on helping farmers sell their produce and goods to churches. Now, we are more aware that the more lasting connections between farmers and the faith community, must begin with and be sustained by a focus on relationships. The transactions related to selling produce to churches are obviously still very important, but it is covenant relationship between farmers and faith communities that pave the road to sustainable transformation.
This is very present to mind as we are currently matchmaking farmer-church connections in multiple states to spur relationships, partnership and bulk buying of local produce by Black churches.
One such example is linked to our work in Atlanta, Georgia. We are cultivating transformative connections between Ebenezer Baptist Church and Atlanta-area Black farmers. Ebenezer – the historic church of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King family – is currently pastored by Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, who also serves as a United States Senator. While recognizing Ebenezer’s long history in food charity ministry, Senator Warnock recognizes that unless we address the root causes of hunger, there will always be people standing in the food pantry lines of his church. (Given this, it’s no wonder that he’s a co-sponsor of the Justice for Black Farmers Act.). He’s asked The Black Church Food Security Network to work with him and his congregation to transform his church’s food charity ministry into a food justice ministry. The church will continue to provide food for those who are hungry, but how they approach this work will evolve and be infused with a focus on justice and communal self-determination. When this process is complete, Ebenezer will be a hub for food justice in the Atlanta Metro area in partnership with their farmer neighbors. We’re replicating this kind of process in other states and with other churches and farmers as well.
The process of cultivating transformative connections between congregations and farmers includes:
- Traveling to meet the parties one-on-one where they are
- Listening deeply to their stories and interests
- Analyzing, researching and reflecting on viable partnership possibilities
- Arranging on-site tours
- Buying meals and hotel rooms for traveling staff
- Coordinating agricultural calendars and church calendars
- Regular follow-up and ongoing relationship cultivation
- Moving at the speed of trust and more!
This is a necessarily even-paced process that takes time, dedication and yes – money. You can’t microwaves results when it comes to connecting churches and farmers. There are so many layers to pull back, stories to honor and concerns to address. However, as we continue to commit to this process, we have full confidence that it will bear much fruit both now and in generations to come!
This is work worth supporting. While we are no stranger to making great impact on a shoestring budget, your financial donations would help strengthen and sustain this valuable work. Click here to make a donation today and share this with others who may find interest in supporting as well.
Stay tuned for more good news coming out of our ARC Program!