Ecumenical advocates gather in Washington, D.C.

Ecumenical advocates gather in Washington, D.C.

March 18, 2010
Written by Gregg Brekke
Photo Loretta Prencipe

Delegates from around the UCC will join over 700 policy makers, expert speakers and representatives from global regions will join church leaders and grassroots activists in reflecting on the 2010 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference theme, "A Place to Call Home: Immigrants, Refugees, and Displaced Peoples."

The March 19-21 conference will focus a variety of workshops and presentations on the subject of shaping U.S. immigration and refugee policies, as well as provide an opportunity to explore how the problems of migration and forced displacement around the world are being accelerated by worsening economic conditions, conflicts and global climate change.

Advocates gather as the U.S. Congress and Obama administration is poised to vote on heath care reform and establish a new set of issues during the 2010 Congressional session. Christian advocates expect immigration and concerns about global migration to be among them.

Speakers and preachers confirmed so far include the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the United Methodist Church Desert Southwest Conference; and Sister Helen Prejean, Anti-Death Penalty Activist and author of Dead Man Walking.

The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president, will speak at the joint UCC / Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) luncheon Saturday, March 20, and attend the Sunday rally for immigration reform in addition to making congressional office visits on Monday. Collegium members the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, executive minister for Wider Church Ministries, and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries, will also participate in the weekend activities.

"Debates about immigration may be the lens through which U.S. citizens view the issue of global migration, but the situation here is just part of a global phenomenon of migration within and across borders," explains Jesse Marsden, conference coordinator for Ecumenical Advocacy Days. "Whether due to poverty, war or climate change, the number of migrants and displaced people around the world is greater than ever before. As Christians we are reminded that Jesus and his family had to flee home and seek a place to lay their head, and as followers we're called to welcome the stranger in our midst. As citizens we should work for policies and practices that make a place for the displaced and secure the rights of the uprooted."

Participants will attend plenary sessions and workshops addressing a range of issues from U.S. border policy and human trafficking to the needs of migrant worker rights and development assistance in the United States, Middle East, Asia-Pacific region, Africa and Latin America.  On March 22, participants will meet with their members of Congress to discuss ways of addressing these concerns through legislation or budget priorities.

A groundswell movement, mobilized by immigration reform advocates from many faith-based organizations, has organized a March 21 rally on the National Mall. They say President Barack Obama has failed to live up to his promise to tackle immigration reform during his first year in office. Activists anticipate a crowd of 10,000 people from across the country to join them in pressuring the administration to address reform soon.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community and its recognized partners and allies which is grounded in biblical witness and shared traditions of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Its goal, through worship, theological reflection and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen the Christian voice of citizens mobilized for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues.

UCC News Director and Editor, the Rev. Gregg Brekke, will be in attendance, blogging updates from the conference, rally and congressional office visits.

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