In a time when many believe very little is coming out of the United Methodist Church I am happy to say nothing could be further from the truth. United Methodists are passionate about welcoming immigrants to the United States and about defending and supporting the rights of immigrants.
Thanks to the leaders of what we call Rapid Response Teams — folks passionate about defending and supporting the rights of immigrants and who are mobilizing churches in their conferences to do the same — the lives of so many immigrants will never be the same.
Here is a brief snapshot of what our Rapid Response Teams have accomplished recently:
- Within a span of just a few weeks two young United Methodist students, undocumented immigrants who are leaders in their local churches, were detained and faced possible deportation. Both were released and returned home safely where they belong, thanks in large part to United Methodists throughout the United States who jammed the White House phone lines urging their release.
- After discovering that The United Methodist Church owned nearly $1 million in stock in private-prisons corporations, Corrections Corp. of America and GEO Group, United Methodists from across the world signed petitions, sent emails and made their outrage heard. This led to total divestment from CCA and GEO Group in January!
- This past fall, United Methodists worked with other faith groups in a series of Sundays called DREAM Sabbaths, to raise up the unjust situation affecting undocumented students brought to the Unied States as children. Out of the 500 DREAM Sabbath events, United Methodists hosted 250 of them!
Our goal is to build vital movements among United Methodists defending and supporting the rights of immigrants. You want to see vital churches? Then you need to be a part of a Rapid Response Team in your conference! We have teams in close to 40 conferences and we are focusing the rest of 2012 on building teams. We are calling this focus "TEAM 2013 or BUST!"
Here is what the rest of the year looks like:
June-August: Working with Rapid Response Team (RRT) leaders, 7-10 churches — and there could be more — will host an educational event or biblical study sometime during the summer. RRT leaders will provide resources. We will end the summer with a nationwide call to celebrate the events.
September-Thanksgiving: The same 7-10 churches — and it could be more — will join with other congregations that are part of the Rapid Response Team to host a joint potluck, what we call a Breaking Bread & Barriers event. They will invite a DREAM Act student in their area to speak. This is a great way to continue to build necessary relationships with immigrants forced to live under the U.S.'s broken immigration system — a system we are determined to fix!
December: An end-of-the-year call will celebrate Breaking Bread & Barriers events. We will also share the plan for 2013 actions to support passage of just, humane reform.
This is the plan. I want you to participate. To find out if your conference has a Rapid Response Team, please let me know. I can connect you with RRT leaders! It is time now to get ready for 2013.
We need you to be involved. Much has been accomplished, and together we can do so much more!
Let me know if you want to be a part!!