Renowned minister to tackle hunger

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, December 5, 2013

A renowned preacher on issues of poverty and hunger will be a guest of Portsmouth’s Grove Baptist Church this Sunday.

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of New York’s Riverside Church — built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., a founding father of American philanthropy — and president of the Healing of the National Foundation, will speak during the regular morning service beginning at 9 a.m.

Forbes visits Grove as part of Preach to End Hunger, a partnership sponsored by Bread for the World to raise awareness of hunger issues as federal lawmakers consider cutting food stamps and other such programs.

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“It’s trying to end hunger in America particularly, but (also) all over the world,” said Dr. Melvin Marriner Sr., Grove’s pastor.

Statistics cited by Grove state that nearly 57 percent of those living in Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District receive food stamp benefits.

“The primary function of the church is to take care of the indigent and the hungry — those who are in greater need,” Marriner said.

The church wants to raise the issue during the holiday season in particular, he said, a time when materialism and commercial forces can overshadow the true meaning of Christmas.

Regular parishioners and visitors will hear a renowned preacher in action Sunday. Forbes was invited to address the 2004 Democratic National Convention, has appeared in a Bill Moyers program on PBS and was recognized by Newsweek in 1996 as one of the 12 most effective preachers.

Marriner said Forbes would give the local fight against hunger “a shot in the arm. He’s going to give us some energy to move forward through the holiday season, when depression rates go up.”

He hopes the guest preacher will entice more folks to attend the service and hear the message.

“His international presence will hopefully get more people to come along,” Marriner said. “If we capture the minds of people this season, hopefully they come into the New Year on board.”

Marriner, who along with First Baptist Church of Powellsville senior pastor Akeem Z. Walker will also be present at the service, said it’s going to take two things to end hunger.

First, he said, is “consistent bombardment of your consciousness,” then comes the political answer in the form of legislative action.

“We give out baskets every day,” Marriner said. “People come from Norfolk and Hampton, because we give food and we give assistance. But, to me, that is not enough.”

Located at 5910 West Norfolk Road, Grove Baptist Church is near Suffolk in the Churchland part of Portsmouth.