-Submitted by Diane Haines, Chair of the Immigration Team
The Minnesota Conference voted in June at our annual meeting to become an Immigrant Welcoming Conference and we called on our churches to become active “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations and Communities.” We celebrate this!
Participating in the border trip is one way to begin to witness what happens to immigrants when they are picked up by the Border Patrol. Nine members of Mayflower UCC (Minneapolis) attended the School of the Americas Watch border convergence as well as the Southwest Conference events in the Tucson area prior to the SOAW offerings. We walked one of the migrant trails where we saw crosses covering graves where bones of three who lost their lives were buried. We witnessed the unjust practices of immigrants forced to go through Operation Streamline (a fast-tracked court process where rights are neglected.) We attended a vigil with 400 people from around the country, in front of the Eloy Prison (a for-profit facility where immigrants are often abused medically, physically and emotionally). We attended workshops, participated in a march to the border with 1000 people protesting the wall and all it stands for. We were able to stand together for just treatment and loving welcome of these our brothers and sisters who, due to dire circumstances in their home countries, have fled to the US.
As a church that holds fast to God’s command to welcome the stranger and to love them and treat them as citizens among us, we stood as witness to that message. At the wall 50 UCCers participated in a time of prayer and witness led by Rev. John Dorhauer, our General Minister and President, who said:
“The United Church of Christ, the Southwest Conference and members of our local churches are here to demonstrate our love for all people and our commitment to an immigrant justice that makes sense”
We are grateful for the witness of Rev. Dorhauer (read about his experience of the border trip), SW Conference Minister Bill Lyons and 50 UCC members from around the country for their combined witness to the love of God. We thank God for a denomination that speaks out for justice for immigrants.
Mayflower members are willing to share this experience with your congregation through a presentation of “Voices from the Border.” Consider inviting us to participate in an education event at your church or to lead a worship service. Contact Diane Haines for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.