This is what Democracy Looks Like

Three Pastors walk into the Capitol…

It sounds like a not-so-funny joke.  In reality, it was a great opportunity to be very serious.  While most of the activists at the State Capitol last week were really surprised to see us, several Lutheran and Methodist pastors came to publicly support immigrants, students, families, and the environment.

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Lutherans from SEMI synod, at Michigan United’s Capitol Day, May 2017 

I was really proud to be a part of the efforts that day.  I was the only female pastor there in a clerical shirt.  This made a lot of people turn their heads.  But it was amazing to be one of hundreds of Michigan residents from all around the state come together.

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We asked for increased funding for schools, to support students and teachers.  We asked for a study to determine if we can fund at-home caregivers (parents caring for children and children caring for parents).  We asked for safety for immigrants and their children.  We asked for clean water for Michiganders.

All in all, it was an amazing day of quiet democracy.  I was so proud to be an American.

I got to meet with my own representative about Immigrant Rights.  I asked for statewide recognition of municipal (city or county) IDs, which show residency but not citizenship or driving permission.  I asked for more money for English language classes for immigrants.  I also asked him to work with other legislators to defeat the current anti-sanctuary bills.  He was in favor of all our requests!

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This is a big deal.  While Rep. Zemke is fairly  progressive, he didn’t know everything we presented.  For example, MI’s current ESL funding is so inadequate that it would take 50 years to give every immigrant in our state English classes.  With only 1 million extra dollars, we could give everyone an English class in only 5 years!
Even though Washtenaw County is leading the way in providing a safe space for immigrants (news link) many of the people in our area can’t drive or visit anywhere else in the state, because they can’t get driver’s licenses and their county IDs aren’t accepted in other locations.

BTW:  Rep. Zemke was totally unfazed by my ‘look’.  Which speaks to either his progressive-ism or his professionalism.  🙂

But, the Ann Arbor folks with whom I carpooled were totally shocked by my entire story.

You do WHAT??!! 

None of the other people I met that day went to church or temple.  They didn’t know anyone who did, either.  They weren’t sure what a pastor does at a church.  A few were fairly aware that we did weddings, funerals, and maybe baptisms.  Even more assumed we led something on Sundays.  They were very unsure why anyone would go to church.

Friends.

We are failing our neighbors.

If the only people we talk to about our faith are already at church, how is anyone going to know more about Jesus?  How can we connect with people in other areas of our life – community groups, sports clubs, volunteer organizations, and other things that aren’t work or school?  I don’t mean that we hand out pamphlets on street corners, but how come our neighbors don’t know anything about what we do on Sunday?

I’m not sure how exactly our church can be more relevant, but I hope that participating in democracy is one step in that direction.  The new friends I met that day were intrigued, and wanted to know more about church, and religion, and why we bother.  I am hoping the Holy Spirit uses others in more ways to share the Good News with them.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Mother’s Love

When I was little, my mom would tell me that she loved me and my brother so much that she would do anything to keep us safe.  She would do anything, even if it meant that she was uncomfortable or unsafe or even in trouble.  My  mother’s love gave me a lot of confidence to try things, because no matter what happened, she would still love me.

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Most of the mothers I meet in my work with immigrants and refugees are a lot like my mom.  They love their kids, and will do anything to keep them safe – even if it makes them uncomfortable, or unsafe, or even criminals.

A woman in active labor arrived for her immigration court appearance in Los Angeles the day we visited in February.  She came to the US to escape her abusive husband in central america, and she hopes her child will have a safe future in the US.

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Another mom came to the US to keep her children safe, and fed, and warm, but then was deported – but her daughter stayed safe in the US.  They meet on Mother’s Day at the border fence.

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Shorah brought her family from Iran to Germany so that her daughter can be raised in a country where she can publicly practice her Christian faith.

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In the book of Matthew, Mary and Joseph snuck baby Jesus into Egypt in order to save him from Herod.

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Among the refugees which arrive in the US, nearly half are children.  This means that moms and dads are applying for refuge in the US to keep their children safe.

Today, I got to meet with the wonderful women of Dixboro United Methodist Church near my home in Ann Arbor, MI.

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We had a great conversation, but somehow my presentation didn’t load correctly!  So, I didn’t have all the information I wanted to show them.  That church is doing a lot of great work locally, and sending money internationally to help lots of immigrants and refugees.

1. Pray for Refugees / Immigrants (check out this prayer online)
2. Tell the truth and share the facts (UNHCR, ORR)
3. Call Michigan elected officials
4. Attend Wash. Co. Bd. of Commissioners Vote on Immigration Resolutions on May 17 at        6pm at the Washtenaw County Administration Building.
5. Support the Sanctuary movement, like Central UMC in Detroit (story here)
6. Connect with WICIR:  Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights
7. Follow Washtenaw Refugee Welcome on facebook
8. Sign up for action alerts at  lirs.org/act/  (click “sign up now”)
9. Volunteer with Samaritas (refugees) or Michigan United (immigrants)
10. Donate to Samaritas (MI), Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services (USA), UMCOR

Maybe, this year, for mother’s day, you will honor your own mom by supporting lots of other moms around the world, who are trying to keep their families safe and healthy.

 

On the Road Again: Refugees, Emmaus Road, and Florida friends

Emmanuel Lutheran in Venice, Florida!

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I got to preach with the palm trees this weekend!
Thanks to a recommendation from a snowbird friend (Thanks, Marj!), I got to visit with some great folks at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Venice, FL.

Thanks also to their amazing tech guy, Dan, you can hear my sermon on their homepage and click on “listen to this week’s sermon, or read the short summary below.

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Bible Study and Links

For many of those who just met me yesterday, this was their first time hearing about the work of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in the USA and Lutheran World Federation across the world.  The church donates a lot to Lutheran World Relief, including school kits, baby kits, quilts, and financial donations which help refugees in camps around the world.

I also got to share a Bible Study with the congregation.  Here is a summary of the information I present in the Study:

 

Please consider donating money, volunteering, or signing up for advocacy alerts from one or more of the following amazing organizations:

  • http://lirs.org/  Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (USA-wide)
  • LWF Lutheran World Federation is the UN’s 5th largest refugee partner worldwide, helping 1.3 million refugees
  • Lutheran Services of Florida serving over 200,000 refugees and immigrants in Florida since 1982!

Beach Stop!

Of course, I couldn’t go to Florida without seeing the beach!  I got to visit Venice Beach at sunset and again in the afternoon.

Thank you to Wes, Marj, and Pastor Rob for welcoming me to Emmanuel, Venice!

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