Believe it or not, there are such things as farminaries, agricultural acreages where those in seminary serve to promote the role of food in the life of the Church.
In many ways, these projects are fulfilling Scripture. In Genesis 2 God called humanity to work and take care of the land. And in John 21 Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
In addition, Fred Bahnson, director of Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity’s Food, Health and Ecology, explains that when seminaries provide a space for growing and eating food, seminarians are better prepared to grasp the biblical story in the context of the agrarian society in which it emerged (Christianity Today, January/February 2018, 81).
Indeed, a large number of Jesus’ parables and activities in ministry revolved around food (the parables of the mustard seed, the sower, the fig tree, etc, and the important ministry moments of the miraculous catch of fish, the feeding of the 5000 and the Eucharist, for instance).
When we study food through the biblical narrative, our relationship to all of creation becomes covered in humility and gratitude, those involved in farminaries have found. When seminarians see and are involved in the work that goes into growing food on a farm, they recognize more fully that food is a gift from God and something that should not be taken for granted.
In addition, ministers equipped to talk about food are ministers prepared to address concerns related to food: hunger, obesity, eating disorders, etc.
Food banks, food drives and CROP walks are just some of the ways in which churches are involved in feeding the hungry. And support groups like Overeaters Anonymous often meet within the walls of churches. So it is only natural that farminaries are becoming more prevalent.
The church is not just for potlucks anymore! And that’s a good thing.