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This is called a sanctuary for a reason.
Cal-Pac hosts Practice Hospitality Conference
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"This is called a sanctuary for a reason." Remind your congregation of the meaning of sanctuary this weekend by praying boldly for comprehensive immigration reform.
Volume VI  Issue 8   28 April 2010

"They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, saying, 'peace, peace,' but there is no peace."  --Jeremiah 6:14

These words come to mind in light of the crisis in Arizona, which began when Governor Brewer signed into law state bill 1070.  This legislation not only allows for, but mandates racial profiling, forcing police to demand proof of legal immigration status from anyone they 'suspect' of being undocumented.  This is NOT the healing for which the faith community is crying out, and we will certainly not be silent. 

I was particularly inspired to read UM pastor John Flower's response to the legislation: "We don't ask those questions.  This is called a sanctuary for a reason."  So this week, we're going to our sanctuaries to lift up prayers for healing--of our system, our laws, our communities and our hearts.  Join us in taking action.

We give thanks for the good work of MFSA chapters like California-Pacific, who are educating and engaging their community in working for comprehensive immigration reform.  We rejoice that the UMC is featuring the voice of OnFire, MFSA's young adult chapter, on this issue.  The staff is grateful to be out in the field, working with you toward full justice as we continue to reflect on what it means to offer true hospitality and sanctuary.
Longing for (a very non-superficial) peace,
Jennifer Mihok
MFSA Communications & Young Adult Organizing
Take Action

"This is called a sanctuary for a reason."

By now you've certainlyvigil heard the tragic news: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed into law a piece of legislation (SB 1070) that tasks law enforcement with checking papers of anyone suspected of being undocumented and penalizes those who provide aid to undocumented persons.  This law, which essentially mandates racial profiling and has a purported 70% approval rating among AZ constituents, has drawn extensive outcry from the faith community.  In an interview with a local news service, Rev. John Flowers of First UMC Phoenix commented, "We don't ask those questions.  This is called a sanctuary for a reason." 

Can we get an Amen?

So this week, we're asking you to draw the attention of your sanctuary.  If you have a time for sharing joys and concerns, stand up and speak out.  Share your experience of sanctuary as a safe space, and ask for prayers that our churches and country would renounce racist and xenophobic policies that endanger our communities.  If you don't have this time during a worship service, bring it up in your Sunday School, Bible study, or other small group.  

My FaithNervous about speaking up?  Know that there is a large movement within the faith community that is boldly confronting the injustices of our broken immigration policy.  As you speak to your congregation, you may find these statements from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to be useful.

And finally, share with us.  Where are you speaking up?  We have a discussion running on Facebook, or you can email us and we'll post it online.
ChapterSpotIn the spotlight: News from chapters and friends
Victor Clark Alfaro
Cal-Pac MFSA sponsors "Practice Hospitality" conference

"PRACTICE HOSPITALITY - Immigration and the Church" was the title of an April 17th conference jointly sponsored by California-Pacific's Peace with Justice Immigration Task Force and MFSA.  The day began with the sharing of personal stories:  a United Methodist pastor who, as a child, had escaped from the killing fields of Cambodia; a lay leader who, in crossing the border at five years of age, had been separated from his mother as they fled the violence in their homeland; a young immigrant college student from the Philippines.  Almost everyone in attendance had their own story of how and why they or their ancestors had migrated to the United States.

In the afternoon, Dr. Helene Slessarev-Jamir, Claremont School of Theology professor and member of the National Hispanic Plan, addressed the lack of justice afforded potential deportees by our courts.  Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana pointed out that the stepped-up deportations are contributing to an insecure border, as deportees released into Tijuana rejoin gangs or start working for organized crime groups in the region.  Older deportees, who have spent most of their lives in the U.S., end up undocumented and unemployable in their country of origin because of their age and the lack of any legal forms.

Attendees left with a new sense of the importance of supporting just immigration legislative reform.  Many are now members of a newly established Rapid Response Team designed to augment the work of the denomination-wide team. This Southern California team was called into action almost immediately to join four immigrant-based organizations in an April 21st rally in L.A. to denounce SB 1070 in AZ, and again on April 29 for an African-American & Hispanic Unity Prayer & Worship gathering.  Members will also be participating in a number of events throughout the Conference on May 1st.  To learn more or to get involved in the California-Pacific MFSA chapter, click here.

Want to have your chapter featured?  So do we!  Send us brief write-ups and pictures, if available, and we'd be glad to pass it on to the greater movement.  As an added bonus, we'll also post it on our website on your chapter page.
SparksSparks: OnFire in action
In case you missed it:
UMConOnFireThe most recent issue of UMConnection, the newspaper of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference has a great article about United Methodist participation in the immigration reform rally, including quotes from MFSA/OnFire staff Jennifer Mihok, a reference to the OnFire BorderLinks trip, and a front page photo of OnFire members.  Check it out on our blog.

Also on the blog, Rachel HarveyOnFire leader and MFSA board member, Rachel Harvey, gives her testimony to the Reconciling Ministries Network about crossing the church's imaginary lines.  Watch her video and consider sharing your own testimony about full inclusion.
NatUpNational Update
Connecting with you: in the field & online.

This past week, MFSA Director, Kathryn Johnson, participated in a gathering of the Reconciling Ministries Clergy.  The two-day meeting, at Hennepin UMC in Minneapolis, resulted in five working groups in the areas of theological reflection, mentoring progressive clergy, same-gender marriage, church and government policy and creation of new reconciling church starts.  Continued collaboration between the Reconciling Ministries Network and the Methodist Federation for Social Action strengthen the effectiveness of each of our organizations.

Staff member Jennifer Mihok will be attending the United Methodist Women General Assembly this week in St. Louis, MO.  You can look for her at the affinity groups and panel of young adult missionaries, the Sweat-free fashion show, the pre-conference mission symposium, or the immigration mobilization on Saturday afternoon.  She'll be glad to connect with you to discuss chapter events, organizing, OnFire, and all things MFSA.

MFSA Red BannerAre you LinkedIn?  MFSA now has a LinkedIn group for all of your professional networking needs.  You can join us by clicking here.  Contact Jennifer for more information.
ProgPondProgressive Ponderings

Jonathan Blake

"If people know that they will be accepted, whatever they have to tell, and that you will give them the dignity and respect of believing in their right and ability to work out their own lives, then they will offer you the gift of their inner selves."