Our congregation continued our ancestry and immigration exploration on Sunday, Nov. 16, by watching a video on immigration history (below) and discussing it as a group. Many of the approximately 15 people who attended mentioned their personal connections to the history – being able to place their ancestry in one of the waves of immigration to the United States. The first wave was approximately 1790 to 1820 when groups of immigrants came to the U.S. for a variety of religious, political and economic reasons. Groups included English, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans, Dutch, French, Spanish and Puritans. The second wave was between 1820 through 1860 when immigrants came largely from Europe after being displaced from agriculture and artisan jobs by the Industrial Revolution. Largest affected groups were the Germans and British (escaping economic problems and seeking political freedom) and the Irish (fleeing horrific poverty and famine). The third wave, between 1880 and 1914, came to America for job opportunities and freedom of religion from China, Japan and other Asian countries. The current or fourth wave from 1965 on came after certain groups were given priority by law if they had family in the U.S. or skills that were perceived as needed in the labor market. They include Europeans, Asians and Hispanics (mainly from Mexico).

We also talked about the long history of U.S. immigration law that has – since the late 1700s – precluded certain groups from migrating in large numbers to this country. We talked about the push/pull of the U.S. needing labor during wars and at other times that led to discrimination and backlash by those who perceived those groups as threats.

 

 

During December, let’s think about the subtle and obvious connections between the nativity story and immigration – as well as the issue of homelessness that the youth will present in their Christmas play and video. Welcoming the stranger is a central and compelling part of our faith. We have a wonderful opportunity to explore how our church will react to that in the next few months. For an excellent article on the connection between immigration and the Christmas story, go to the story “The story of Christmas makes it clear: Welcome the refugee” in the Los Angeles Times.

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