Annual Report 2015

Church World Service

Photo: ACT/Paul Jeffrey

Who are we?

At first it was a train. Box cars that glided on rails through golden wheat fields in the American heartland. Farmers who tended those fields by day listened to Edward R. Murrow and his contemporaries at night, as they described scenes of families in Europe and Asia struggling to rebuild after devastating loss. Then something stirred those farmers to act. Maybe it was a worship service, or perhaps a yearning to help after years of enduring a world of loss. Whatever moved people to act, communities who cared to make the world better filled those rail cars with relief for many and opened their doors to welcome refugees.

The trains carried food to ships and ultimately to starving families in Europe and Asia. Communities in the United States opened their hearts to refugees looking for a new life and CWS helped them find a new home.

The actions of local communities across the U.S. resound nearly 70 years after the Friendship Train effort helped to define a young Church World Service. Surely, the times have changed. Trains no longer carry donated grain for us. Refugees now arrive from all points and by differing means. Murrow’s baritone voice has long gone silent. What has not changed is that those who care to shape a better world still choose CWS to make a difference that lasts in the lives of thousands in need.

Our mission is to work with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty, and to promote peace and justice. We work with those who want lasting, sustainable change for the world’s most vulnerable. In the last fiscal year, our donors have made it possible to achieve our mission along four themes:

– providing lasting food, water and other development programs
– responding to emergencies, and mitigating their impact on vulnerable communities
– supporting those displaced from their homes such as immigrants and refugees; and
– advocating for policies that are just and fair to the communities we assist.

What follows is a sample of the work we believe will bring lasting change to those caught in poverty and danger’s grip. Our work has evolved. Yet what drives it is the same force that beckoned American farmers to act nearly seven decades ago — seemingly ordinary communities driving extraordinary change through Church World Service.