Hunger No More: An Interfaith Convocation

The National Capital Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster James Anderson) supported Hunger No More: An Interfaith Convocation, held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on Monday, 6 June 2005. The convocation, held on the eve of National Hunger Awareness Day, brought together more than 40 US religious leaders representing traditions ranging from Muslim to Hebrew, Christian to Buddhist. The common goal, to end hunger both inside the United States and throughout the world, was discussed during meetings held during the day. In the evening, a multi-faith worship service was held in the National Cathedral. The main speaker for the evening was the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Most Rev. Njongonkulu W. H. Ndungane.

As The Salvation Army was a participant group in the convocation, the National Capital Band was asked to provide prelude and postlude music for the worship service. Seated in the choir of the cathedral, the band was witness to an convicting, challenging and inspiring evening. The congregation, which filled the nave of the Cathedral, was challenged to work for the abatement of hunger in their local communities and support world hunger relief both politically and financially.

The event, held in the main sanctuary of the Washington National Cathedral (the sixth largest Gothic cathedral in the world), began with preliminary music from the National Capital Band. Items played included Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren’ (James Curnow), ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine), A Psalm of Praise (James Curnow), Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Land of Freedom (Stephen Bulla), and Shekinah (Kenneth Downie). William Himes’ arrangement of Bringing in the Sheaves was the postlude.

Following the prelude music, the service proper began with calls to the faithful in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin. A procession of the convocation participants came up the main aisle of the nave as the congregation and an African-style choir sang the Tanzanian worship song “Gracious Spirit” in both Swahili and English. The procession ended at the main altar, where faith community leaders presented various types of brad symbolizing populations throughout the world who are at risk of hunger: injera, representing Ethiopia and the rest of Africa; pita, representing the Middle East; rice cakes, representing Asia; cornbread, representing North America; tortillas, representing Latin America; day-old bread, representing the mentally ill, homeless, and economically disadvantaged of all countries; and shortbread, representing the children of the world.

Words of welcome to the congregation of several thousand (filling the nave of the Cathedral), sacred readings and prayers were offered by leaders of various faith traditions, including Sikh, Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist. Following a congregational hymn, the gathering was charged and challenged to action by a stirring address by Rev. Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town and successor to Rev. Desmond Tutu as Anglican primate of South Africa. The gathering was then treated to a number of musical and dance presentations in various multicultural styles, interspersed with an offering (given in both food and money), a prayer of thanksgiving, and a benediction. The National Capital Band provided postlude music as did the Cathedral organist.

The evening ended with a call to the congregation to join with the interfaith leadership the next morning, where they rallied at the downtown MCI Center arena and then went to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress to support feeding and nutrition programs both domestic and foreign, which are threatened by budget cuts.