Fighting hunger through music


Fighting hunger through music
Jonathan Rundman (with the mandolin) combines his love of music with his passion for ELCA World Hunger in a new album project.

By Carrie Gubsch

Musician Jonathan Rundman is a child of the 1980s.

“I was really inspired by my youth in the ’80s when I’d watch bands like U2, Peter Gabriel, John Mellencamp and Sting on MTV. Artists whom I really loved were dedicating their music to causes they believed in,” said Jonathan. “There was a movement going on where rock musicians were performing for Live Aid, Amnesty International and Farm Aid. They raised tons of awareness and tons of money for those causes. I thought that was so cool.”

So when Jonathan, an ELCA member, singer, song writer and musician based in the Twin Cities found out about a way he could marry his love of music with his passion for ELCA World Hunger, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s easy to do if you’re a famous rock star because you have lots of people knocking on your door asking for help or asking for money, but I’m an independent artist and have been for 20 years. I’m not a celebrity!”

Online technology is helping

Jonathan is crowdfunding his next album, “Look Up,” through the website, which allows musicians to raise money to record albums and assign a portion of their profits to a charity of their choice.

“I thought this would be the perfect chance for me to support ELCA World Hunger and to give some online traffic and visibility to the ELCA and the ELCA World Hunger program,” said Jonathan.

Once Jonathan reaches his funding goal, 10 percent of the proceeds from the album will go to ELCA World Hunger.

Putting his music and his faith life together has been an important, but difficult, goal for Jonathan.

“I’ve always struggled to find a way to integrate my vocation as a touring musician with a way to give back and to be a good steward of my income. I wanted to find a platform that was clear and public, yet also connected with my theological values,” said Jonathan. “Crowdfunding my new album via PledgeMusic is allowing this to happen for the first time in my career.”

Album returns to rock

Jonathan’s musical influences have moved him to write everything from liturgy and hymns to Nordic folk music that touches on his Finnish-American heritage. “Look Up” brings Jonathan back to the kind of music he started playing as a teen and young adult rock musician.

“I love playing liturgical music and folk music, but it’s been a lot of fun to return to rock and roll. I’m shifting gears and getting back to the music I played in my earliest days.”

Even though “Look Up” is a rock album, Jonathan’s Lutheran roots and theology still show up in his lyrics. The song “Helicopters of Love” focuses on the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

“[‘Helicopters of Love’] is sort of the quirky language I’m using for the need to be rescued and the need for grace,” explained Jonathan.

A new way to reach people

Ryan Cumming, program director for Hunger Education, said this is the first time a person has approached ELCA World Hunger with a project like this.

“It is always wonderful to hear about the passion that people have for tackling problems around the world.” Ryan said. “Clearly he is someone who is very committed to sharing his talent in the church and to using music to enliven and enrich his faith and the faith of those around him.”

Beyond financial funding, the campaign gives the ELCA and ELCA World Hunger valuable exposure to a new group of people online who might not be aware of the work the church is doing.

“The ELCA does amazing things related to hunger and poverty ministries,” Ryan said. “To be able to share that in new ways with new audiences is a gift.”

Carrie Gubsch is the communications coordinator at Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Brighton, Minn.

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