UCC advocates among 300 faith leaders at immigration reform summit
Written by Emily Schappacher
October 4, 2013
The Rev. Donna Schaper is fed up with the state of immigration in the United States. So the senior pastor of Judson Memorial Church United Church of Christ in New York City will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for the Church World Service's Summit on Immigration Reform Oct. 7-8. Schaper hopes that the gathering of 300 faith leaders standing in solidarity with their immigrant brothers and sisters will send lawmakers a message they need to hear.
"This is a message of great urgency that people see how many gifts – cultural, spiritual – immigrants bring to the American table, and that we learn to welcome them legally or otherwise as soon as possible," Schaper said. "We have got to push Congress to stop delaying and make a better bill so my congregants will stop being deported for no reason."
The CWS Summit on Immigration Reform will bring nearly 300 faith leaders to D.C. as an opportunity for the church to live out its moral imperative to create just and welcoming communities. During the two-day event, leaders will discuss the global implications of migration and advocate for domestic policy changes that advance immigrant rights. Some goals of the summit are to increase connectivity among denominations, create relationships between faith communities and members of Congress, organize actions like prayer vigils, congressional visits, and letter writing campaigns, and build strategies cultivating immigrant-welcoming communities. The event will culminate with a concert, rally, prayer service and prophetic actions on the National Mall.
Among other UCC representatives, the Rev. Randy Mayer, senior pastor of the Good Shepherd UCC in Sahuarita, Ariz., will participate in a panel discussion about how to build stronger, more welcoming communities, and the Rev. Noel Anderson, Church World Service grassroots coordinator for immigrant rights and member of the UCC's Collaborative on Immigration, will help Mayer lead a strategy session about building denominational teams to promote the rights of immigrants and refugees.
Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC's Washington, D.C., offices will also take part in the summit, and thinks this is a pivotal and relevant time to move forward on legislation that would establish a fair and humane immigration policy. She notes the UCC has a long history of affirming the dignity of immigrants and working for comprehensive U.S. immigration policy, which she said was most recently reflected this summer in the General Synod's affirmation of a resolution calling for compassionate immigration reform.
"I am glad to be a part of furthering that witness by joining with other stalwart UCC advocates and deeply valued partners across faith communities who are passionate and spirit-filled in their advocacy for a humane, fair and just immigration policy," Sorenson said. "I look forward to the work and witness that will occur over the two days of this Church World Service summit, and I pray that our time together will help energize advocacy around the country for immigration reform and encourage people of faith in the work of creating welcoming communities."