January 31, 2013

Psalm 71:1-6
2 Chronicles 34:1-7
Acts 10:44-48

In living into "that we may all be one," the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ is offering training sessions around the issue of immigration, to empower churches to "embrace the other." The Rev. Randy Mayer, pastor of Good Shepherd UCC in Sahuarita, AZ, helped to organize the first workshop that was attended by several dozen people in Phoenix on Sept. 22, 2012. He hoped the idea catches on across the UCC and he encourages more action around the immigration issue. "We have written a guide for churches outlining ways to become 'Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.' We are hoping that other UCC conferences and the wider UCC will use it to get more involved in the immigrant struggle," Mayer said. The conference, at its annual meeting in April 2012, decided to make immigration its top justice priority for the upcoming year. This type of training couldn't have come at a better time. The need for workshops around immigration became evident after part of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 went back into effect. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton lifted an injunction on the "show me your papers" clause in SB 1070, giving police the authority to check the immigration status of anyone they stop to question. "There's a lot of pain and fear running through immigrant communities in AZ," Mayer said. Opponents of SB 1070 say it unfairly criminalizes otherwise law-abiding people, opens the door for legal racial profiling of Latino/a persons, and forces state law enforcement to interfere with federal immigration policy.

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