Learn to be an Immigration Advocate: May 7 or 8
“What Would Jesus Do” about the immigration debate? Does the Bible have any principles related to this modern-day issue? Leaders passionate about helping “the least of these” can hear a civil and human rights expert at a free Immigration Advocacy training session in May. All United Methodists are also invited to review 40 related scriptures in preparation for Pentecost.
Have you met “Special Agent” Scott Moore? He’s one of many passionate advocates for immigration reform across the conference.
As a former law enforcement officer and Special Agent with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.), Rev. Scott Moore, executive pastor of FUMC Conroe has personally witnessed the impact of immigration. “When I entered federal law enforcement, the agency was the U.S. Customs Service under the Department of the Treasury,” he says. “My job was to safeguard the borders and economy of the United States from dangerous and illegal substances and commodities. When the agency was changed to I.C.E. under the Department of Homeland Security, my job evolved into enforcing immigration policies. I saw firsthand how inhumane those policies were and how adversely they effected families. I could no longer be a part of the tearing apart of families.” He is taking action with many other volunteers across the conference, as head of the new Church and Society Task Force on Immigration.
While the issue of immigration is a highly charged political topic, others including fellow pastors William Llana and Artie Cadar believe that many United Methodists are engaged in the discussion because of scriptures such as Exodus 22:21 - "You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt."
Rev. Artie Cadar, pastor of ChristWay Community Church echoes this viewpoint saying, “I am not in favor of illegal immigration, but I love the illegal immigrant much like we do not approve of sin but love the sinner, as Jesus teaches. When Jesus comes again, will we be held accountable for how we responded to the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the sick, and those in prison? What will we tell Jesus?”
“We are collectively inviting congregations into a 40-day study of scripture and prayer challenge and hosting advocacy training events to reinforce the TAC Center for Missional Excellence in promoting a Christian response to other human beings,” adds Rev. William Llana, FUMC Conroe. “We are simply asking others in our denomination to: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Seize this 21st Century Pentecost Moment
On the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2, members of every nation under heaven were living in Jerusalem. When the Spirit descended on the fearful band of new believers huddled in the upper room, they went out and spoke with the members of all the nations about Jesus in ways that they could understand – in their own language.
“As members of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, we have the unique privilege of living in a “21st Century Pentecost Moment,” says Reverend Diane McGee, Director of the TAC Center for Missional Excellence. “The 2010 Census tells us that our conference headquarters is in the middle of the most multi-ethnic city in the entire United States, and that that diversity is replicated in smaller but growing percentages throughout the TAC. God has literally assembled the nations in our midst and is calling us to reach them in the name of Christ by entering into their culture, speaking their language, and standing with them on justice issues that impact their lives.”
How can you help?
- Step One: The 40-day countdown, the Preparing for Pentecost Challenge, is a conference-wide invitation to seek the Spirit’s leading, through the study of Scripture and prayer, about how the people of God are called to respond and speak to the need for immigration reform as a faithful witness to God’s justice and mercy for the stranger. Adds Diane, “We are currently asking every church in the conference to participate in a 40-day prayer challenge regarding immigration called "I Was a Stranger ..” (http://www.txcumc.org/pages/detail/1460). This is a program created by the Evangelical Immigration Table (http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/). Prayerfully read one of the scriptures each day until Pentecost, thereby joining thousands of churches throughout the U.S. in this challenge.”
All members of the Texas Annual Conference are also invited to hear Bill Medford, director of Civil and Human Rights, General Board of Church and Society at one of two workshops in early May.
- Step Two: Attend one of the immigration advocacy training workshops offered free of charge in two locations. Hear United Methodist national human rights expert Bill Medford on Tuesday, May 7, and enjoy a light dinner served at First Conroe and workshop from 5:30-9pm. On Wednesday, May 8, coffee and light refreshments will be served at Marvin UMC in Tyler for a morning workshop 9-noon, also featuring Bill.
These events are designed to train individuals and congregations in how to be effective advocates for human rights, especially regarding the issue of immigration. Adds Diane, “There is a clear biblical mandate for followers of Jesus Christ to care for others, to advocate for those who are suffering, and to give a voice to the voiceless. Our presenter helps coordinate and focus the efforts of the United Methodist Church around the issues of basic civil rights and human dignity. Bill Medford will approach the issue of immigration advocacy from a missional perspective, laying out the biblical foundation for Christians to care for their neighbor. This event will help strengthen the efforts of those already involved in advocacy and will be an opportunity for those who desire to learn more about how and why we should advocate for the rights of others to hear from one of the top leaders in our denomination.”
Workshop planners believe this event is a must -- for seasoned advocacy veterans or those who simply want to learn more about the efforts of the United Methodist Church and other Christians.
Step 3: Look for follow up information at Annual Conference about how you might respond to the Spirit’s leading on behalf of the immigrants in our midst. Delegates can also attend the Hispanic Ministries Luncheon on Monday, May 27 or the Church and Society/Religion and Race breakfast on Tuesday May 28, to learn more. “Delegates at the 2012 Annual Conference voted to make immigration a top priority for the conference through the approval of Justice for our Neighbors as the advance special. The 2013 Conference will also provide every church with information on ways they can examine the issue of immigration in their own congregation. “All of this will lead up to a conference-wide Immigration Sunday on September 15,” notes Diane.
For more information on this topic, check out: http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/2013/04/03/april-10th-faith-advocacy-day-and-mass-mobilization-for-just-immigration-reform/
Or call Scott Moore at 936-756-3395 (email@example.com). The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society is one of 35 national faith-based organizations that is an official member of the IIC.