(Sept. 22, 2010 – DNS) – The immigration debate in this country has frequently been marked by rancorous discussion and divisive political decision-making.
However, as people of faith, Disciples are being asked to plan conversations around the topic of immigration starting on the Columbus Day weekend to consider what God is calling your congregation to say and do about immigration today. The conversations also can take place throughout the month of October or at a time convenient for your congregation.
Several weeks ago, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins convened a group of Disciples leaders to talk about the issue and to discuss ways our church might contribute to a positive witness in the debate. The idea for the conversations grew out of that meeting.
"Throughout our history, debate about immigration policies has sometimes been contentious and political," said Watkins. "This is one of those times. I think, though, that we as Disciples, a movement for wholeness, can go a different route. Instead of a "contentious debate" we can have a conversation guided by faith."
To assist in the conversations, Refugee and Immigration Ministries, a program of Disciples Home Missions, has prepared a number of helpful resources. The resources include theological reflections, Biblical texts, worship resources, immigration reform legislative updates and historical information. They can be found at: www.disciples.org/RIM
The immigration conversation is a logical one for Disciples, adds Jennifer Riggs, Director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries saying: "Disciples are a denomination formed by immigrants. We also are a denomination, growing in part, through our immigrant congregations. Immigration is a part of our very being as a denomination."
Six videos also have been produced by Disciples leaders whose ministry in some way is involved with the issue of immigration. These videos also are available from the special immigration section on the Refugee and Immigration Ministries website: www.disciples.org/RIM
Here are excerpts from some of those who speak on the videos:
- Jennifer Riggs, Director, Refugee and Immigration Ministries: "During your congregation’s conversation you are urged to discuss immigration, not from the various political perspectives that are heard each day in the news media, but from a faith perspective. Consider what it means to be a follower of Christ in the midst of today’s immigration debate."
- Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President: "When I think of immigration, I remember that Jesus, as a child was a refugee, a stranger in a strange land. I think of Hebrews 13:2 where we are reminded that Abraham, by welcoming strangers, entertained angels unawares. I think of Genesis 1 and 2 where God creates all human beings as one family descended from one set of cosmic parents."
- David Vargas, President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Co-Executive, Global Ministries: "To advocate for the reform of our immigration laws is to advocate for the dignity of our own church family, for the dignity of our nation in faithfulness and to our Christian witness to the global community."
The videos can be viewed individually or used in their entirety. Each is only about two minutes in length.
If you would like additional information about ways to create a conversation in your congregation that offers faithful ways to consider what God is calling your congregation to do and to say about immigration, please contact Jennifer Riggs of Refugee and Immigration Ministries at 317-713-2643 or [email protected]
By Wanda Bryant Wills, [email protected]