Last Friday, I was fortunate to spend the day in Kalamazoo attending the Big Provincial Gathering (BPG) along with a few hundred other Episcopalians from our Province V! As a reminder, Province V includes all our Episcopal brothers and sisters from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin – 14 diocese in all. This exciting event was much like our own annual Ministry Fair on steroids!! The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, our keynote speaker was inspiring and challenging as he presented his talks on “experimentation and implementation of experiments for church innovation.” Rev. Lorenzo is eager to help our churches explore new ministries and approaches to enhance church growth. Since I only attended the first day of the event, I’m afraid I didn’t get the conclusion of his talk but I will certainly be checking out the video when it’s available. You can find videos of his presentation on the Province V Facebook page. His company is TryTank so you can check out his ministry there.
The BPG also gave us the opportunity to attend different workshops, some of which were presented and assisted by friends from EDOMI: the Rev. Kit Carlson, Br. John Brendan (John Filkins), Sr. Elizabeth Marguerite (Lizzie Anderson Kostin), Kevin Kostin, the Rev. Marsha Ledford, and the Rev. Terri Pilarski. And our friends were only just a tiny fraction of the presenters; there were 62 presentations to choose from! Other friends from EDOMI were there giving their time as expert volunteers: the Rev. Dan Buchin, Jerry and Jo Ann Hardy, and Anna Stania, our new diocesan representative to the Province V Executive Board. Way to go, EDOMI!
We also had the opportunity to worship together – so many beautiful voices raised in prayer and praise to our Lord! All in all, it was a wonderful experience and, I would highly recommend attending in the future if they Provincial leadership decides to do this again.
The real message for this week is a continuation of last week’s blog post highlighting work done at last year’s General Convention from the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN). With all the news and recent Lights for Liberty vigils taking place in cities around the world calling attention to the horrific plight of those in detention centers, this week I’ll share EPPN’s report on immigration:
The resolutions A178: Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children and C033: Respecting the Dignity of Immigrants have reinforced our work to protect the dignity and humanity of Dreamers, TPS recipients, and asylum seekers.
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals to remember and support the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief and Development during Lent through prayer and a special offering that will help heal a hurting world; and be it further
Resolved, That any costs incurred by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to implement this action shall be reimbursed by Episcopal Relief and Development, provided such costs are approved by Episcopal Relief and Development in advance.
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reject and deplore racist and unjust treatment of immigrants of any residential status; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church reaffirm GC2009-B006 which advocates for comprehensive immigration reform; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church direct the Episcopal Office of Government Relations to advocate on this Church’s behalf all elements of this resolution, and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church advocate through education, communication, and representation before legislative authorities the continuation of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for all persons fleeing to or currently resident in the US seeking refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, or cultural abuse, domestic abuse, or other forms of abuse; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church advocate for congressional consideration and implementation of comprehensive immigration reform which will allow millions of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States and are often parents and spouses of U.S. Citizens to have a realistic pathway to citizenship and to full social and economic integration into the United States; and be it further
Resolved, That we affirm comprehensive immigration reform to include:
Keeping families together
Respecting the United States Bill of Rights
Honoring Human and Worker Rights
Providing a Pathway to Citizenship; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention 79 support the goals of expanded immigration relief for youth as outlined in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as stated in GC2015-D048; and support the passing of federal legislation that presents a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth and young adults known as DREAMers, as stated in GC2012-D067; and be it further
Resolved, That we urge dioceses, congregations, and individual Episcopalians to commit to long term advocacy, prayer, and study around immigration and partner with the Office of Government Relations to contact their elected officials on the need for compassionate and humane immigration reform through the Episcopal Public Policy Network.
Resolved, that The 79th General Convention commends the ongoing work of Episcopal Migration Ministries in resettling refugees to the United States on behalf of the Episcopal Church and encourages dioceses, parishes, and communities to engage the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries through its Partners in Welcome ministry network and other welcoming and advocacy programs.
In reaffirmation of our commitment to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, OGR submitted a statement to the House Judiciary Committee on the need to protect Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients in the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. The bill has passed the House, and our advocacy continues as we await action in the Senate. See our action alert here!
A member of OGR staff recently participated in the Walk in Love Border tour, learning about the current situation of asylum seekers and the responses of local governments and the various ministries in the Diocese of West Texas. With this information, we plan to further enrich our advocacy on for humane and just treatment of women, parents, and children.
A webinar entitled “Listen & Learn: Border Advocacy and Ministry” was hosted July 2nd by the EPPN and Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) with Bishop Michael Hunn from the Diocese of the Rio Grande. In case you missed the webinar, watch it here and share it with others!
The Office of Government Relations has also prepared Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants so that we can participate locally.
Please join the effort to speak out and support the necessary actions that recognize all people are children of our God and deserve respect and care as we promise in our Baptismal covenant:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God’s help.
Let us pray –
We pray for those who leave their homes in search of new beginnings and possibilities, may they know your presence with them.
We pray that those who seek to make a home in this country may find us welcoming and willing to help them find a path toward citizenship,
We pray that our legislators, as they craft new immigration legislation may find the wisdom and courage to enact new policies that do justice for our country and for those who would immigrate here.
We pray for those who fan the flames of fear and discrimination against the
Undocumented may be touched with your divine compassion.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
(The Archdiocese of Chicago)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council