Rio Texas Conference IMMIGRATION RESPONSE Update – July 27, 2018

Welcome to the Rio Texas Conference IMMIGRATION RESPONSE website. As stated, the purpose of this website is to share around the humanitarian immigration crisis, to share what our people and their partners are doing and learning, what their needs are in their ministry, and how others can help.  

Our context map reflects various ministry expressions within the conference that are about offering hospitality to the immigrant communities among us.     

Throughout Scripture the people of God are called to love sojourners in our midst, treating them “as if they were one of your citizens” and loving them as we do ourselves (Leviticus 19:33-34 NRSV). Love for the sojourner is birthed out of the shared experience the Israelites had as a people in sojourn searching for the Promised Land. The attitudes and actions required of God’s people were to emanate from the reflection of their liberation from slavery by God’s hand. As the people of God were liberated from oppression, they too were charged to be instruments of redemption in the lives of the most vulnerable in their midst-the sojourner (Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 10:19; 16:12; 24:18, 22—all NRSV).

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Each ministry is unique. In the collective, we discover a mosaic of ministry reflected through three JFON ministries where legal services are offered focusing on family-based and humanitarian immigration law and the Holding Institute in Laredo, historic UM agency "building community and sustaining hope" along the border in Laredo, Texas.

We discover the challenges of the migrant’s journey and plight through our consistent and unfolding participation with the Humanitarian Respite Center - McAllen, La Posada Providencia respite center - San Benito, and the Interfaith Welcoming Coalition - San Antonio. Through these partnerships and relationships, we learn of the challenges and complexities migrants and refugees are facing in their country of origin intersecting with the complexities of our immigration laws. Likewise, this mosaic reflects our churches connecting and building relationships with immigrant communities that would remain unseen or hidden otherwise.

As Methodists, we share 440 miles of the Rio Grande with La Iglesia Metodista de Mexico as reflected through the bridging relationship fostered by the Methodist Border Friendship Commission. Despite concerns for border security and travel into Mexico, it is through our Methodist connection and growing relationships that bridge the border is where we see the church in action through ministries of mercy and justice.     

Through our faithfulness in partnering with God’s mission, overtime, we will discover the unfolding depth of these ministries and relationships in the midst of the complexities of migration and immigration. Periodical updates will share these stories.

Items for consideration and updates to come:

Seminars and Workshops Available
Links to studies and reflection on global migration, immigration, and the Biblical narrative will soon be posted on this website. A foundational place to start is reflecting on the UMC’s Book of Resolutions: Welcoming the Migrant to the U.S. document. To request scheduling a seminar / workshop on global migration, immigration, and he church’s response - contact Abel Vega at 210.408.4514 / avega@riotexas.org to begin the process.

South Central Jurisdiction Immigration Task Force [SCJ-ITF] network gathering – Grapevine, Texas – July 27 - 29
A team from Rio Texas will participate in an immigration networking and training gathering sponsored by the newly formed South Central Jurisdiction - Immigration Task Force. It is expected that representation from most if not all of the jurisdiction’s 12 conferences will be in attendance. Rio Texas conference representatives to the SCJITF are Deaconess Cindy Johnson and Cesar Duran. Update soon forthcoming on the conversation, learning, and resources available resulting from this networking session.  

RTC Praise and Preaching Team visiting minors at detention center – Tornillo, TX. – Sunday, July 29
Through connection and invitation of the North Texas Conference, Rev. Laura Merrill – Assistant to the Episcopal Office will offer the sermon to immigrant minors held at a detention center in Tornillo, Texas. Yvette Mendoza will lead praise and worship. Rev. Owen Ross of the North Texas Conference has been leading a team from the area to minister to the minors over the past couple of weeks. Now others are being invited to participate in Worshipping a Borderless God in the Middle of the Border Crisis.

Interfaith Webinar on Family Separation – Monday, July 30 at 4pm EST
Via invitation from the UMC Church and Society, register to join this webinar on Monday, July 30 at 4 PM EST on family separation with members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Justice for Immigrants campaign.

End Family Separation Toolkit
Via the UMC Church and Society - the Interfaith Immigration Coalition has created a comprehensive faith toolkit on ending family separation, which is being continuously updated to keep up with the latest developments. It includes an overview and background of the issues, top 8 ways for faith communities to take-action, FAQ’s, statements, media coverage, and more resources.