UCC A Just World for All MissionOn July 3, General Synod 2017 overwhelmingly declared itself an Immigrant Welcoming Denomination and called on all settings of the United Church of Christ to do the same. Delegates voted 96 to 3 percent in favor of the Resolution of Witness, which was brought by the Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northern California Nevada, Massachusetts, and Central Pacific conferences.

The Central Pacific Conference made the same declaration at its September 2016 meeting. Since that time a small group of KMUCC members has been exploring what it would mean for us to become an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.” Macy Guppy and I also participated in a six month program called Sanctuary Cohort Initiative offered by IMIrJ (Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice), to learn about immigrant issues and the variety of responses faith communities are making.

Starting on October 1, we’ll invite the whole congregation to join the conversation. Your homework, between now and then, is to identify, as nearly as you are able, where in the world your ancestors came from. Whether they belonged to one of the indigenous nations who were engulfed by European settlers, were brought to this continent as indentured servants or enslaved persons, signed the Mayflower Compact, or came in one of the great waves of immigration from across the globe, where did your earliest known ancestor start from?

We’ll continue the celebration of our diverse origins with a potluck lunch: If you are able, bring a dish from one of the countries of your ancestry. After we’ve eaten our way around the world, we’ll enjoy the music of Tom Rawson, a folk singer in the tradition of Pete Seeger, who performs music from across the globe.

Our exploration will continue at coffee hour on November 5, with guided conversations to take us a little deeper into the stories of ancestors, as far as we know them: why they came, what they found when they arrived, what it has meant to them to become American. We’ll also consider what part of our ancestry we identify with most strongly and how that informs our sense of identity.

Over the following months we’ll host a video night and invite speakers from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR) program and from Augustana Lutheran Church, a New Sanctuary Church and local leader in immigrant issues. And we’ll have lots of opportunities for conversation and deepening our understanding of what it means to be an immigrant in 2017 -2018 America.

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