Social Justice Action Team

Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team has been very active. The team members working on the Immigration/Refugee issue have developed a working relationship with Refugee Focus, a division of Lutheran Social Services. For more than thirty years, this organization has served some of the world’s most persecuted people living right here in Phoenix. Violence and armed conflict chase millions of people from their homes, their families, and their countries, forcing them to seek safety in other countries around the world.

Honoring a proud identity as a nation of immigrants, the United States has welcomed refugees and asylees throughout its history. Every year, the State Department identifies global regions in which people have an exceptional need for protection outside of their home countries. These refugees and asylees are then invited to resettle in the “land of opportunity,” in a nation that has traditionally cherished the value of uplifting the oppressed. Refugee Focus services include:

Pre-arrival housing
Case management
English classes
Transportation services
Employment support
Education service
Women’s empowerment
Immigration services

And here is what Church of the Palms Social Justice Team members are doing to support this effort:

Beth Malmgren – tutoring in finances
Linda Hofmann – teaching English
Kurt Hofmann – mentoring families
Nancy & Richard Mueller – teaching English
Suzanne Boisclair – teaching English
Linda Rouches – working with children

Please feel free to speak to any of these Social Justice Team members to see how you could become involved. The Social Justice Team meets the second Friday of the month at 9:30 in the chapel. All are welcome.

 

Social Justice Team update

Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support!

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team is a vital ministry in and of our church. The very nature of seeking justice infers advocating on behalf of those individuals and classes of individuals that have been marginalized and oppressed. We keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to the needs in our church, our community, and our world.

We have several action items that we are participating in to become more informed about how we can prayerfully support others and how we can help in other ministries across our community, the state, and beyond. Keep your antenna up for information on issues of interest to members of our church and community such as the genocide in South Sudan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the topic of “White Privilege”.

If you are interested in justice issues and feel a call to contribute, please come – you are always welcome.

Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.
Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.

Why not just call them immigrants?

by Beth Malmgren
Member, Church of the Palms Social Justice Team

Immigrant; Alien; Illegal Immigrant; Illegal; Refugee; Asylum – we hear these terms everyday through whatever news media we watch or listen to. But, do we understand the meaning? It is my opinion that it is important to know the difference, as “words do matter.”

An IMMIGRANT is a PERSON who comes to a country to take up permanent residence. The need to escape from poverty, to find available employment or to escape natural disasters drives immigration flows.

A foreigner who enters the US without an entry or immigrant visa (one who crosses the border by avoiding inspection or who overstays the period of time allowed per a visa ) may be referred to as an ALIEN; ILLEGAL; ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, or ILLEGAL ALIEN, UNDOCUMENTED or UNAUTHORIZED. However, these terms are NOT interchangeable. Let’s explore the meanings.

ALIEN is a term used in legal language for a non-citizen resident, regardless of whether that person resides in the country legally or illegally. This term originated from British law and has been a legal designation for foreign-born residents since the Revolutionary era and continues to be used by the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs It is used as a technical term in legal documents. Alien is a word that is also associated with extraterrestrial life and is perceived as dehumanizing when applied to immigrants. It is now associated with anti-immigration policies and advocates.

We have all heard the term “the illegals,” a term that makes the immigrant advocates (and me) cringe. Recent years have brought about a push to change the vocabulary to avoid the term “illegal” and in 2013, the Associated Press stated that “illegal” should be used to describe actions, not people, and dropped the term “illegal immigrant” from its pages. USA Today, CA Governor Jerry Brown, and the Library of Congress have joined in removing the term “illegal alien/immigrant.” In 2012, the U.S.  Supreme Court advocated omitting the term “illegal immigrants/aliens”. Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in the majority opinion that “It is NOT a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.”

“We don’t call pedestrians who cross in the middle of the road illegal pedestrians. A kid who skips school to go to Disneyland is not an illegal student. And yet that’s sort of parallel,” said Otto Santa Ana, professor in UCLA’s Department of Chicana/o Studies.

A REFUGEE is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, ethnic, tribal, or religious violence or natural disaster. It is someone who leaves their own country, often for political reasons and who travels to another country hoping that the government will protect them and allow them to live there. Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and are of special humanitarian concern to the US. They are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. One may seek a referral for refugee status only from OUTSIDE the US.

SANCTUARY is a place where someone is protected or given shelter and protection provided by a safe place. The concept of sanctuary is deeply embedded in Western tradition (the underground railroad in the U.S., for example). In biblical times, shelter was offered even to those who might have qualified if the crime lacked intent.

ASYLUM – When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded. At the end of 2014, there were approximately 1.8 million people around the world waiting for a decision on their asylum claims.

Jose Luis Benavides, journalism professor at Cal State University said “The words that the candidates (we) use frame the political conversation. Using dehumanizing language then makes it easier for people to justify dangerous policies against a particular group. Words really do matter.” Why not just call them immigrants? That is what they are – whether undocumented or not. And, unless one is Native American Indian – we are all immigrants.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Report

Our Social Justice Team has been very active this summer with a number of activities. Following is a statement and prayer written by Michael Curry, our service leader July 16th, and read by members of Shadow Rock and Church of the Palms , pictured below, at the ICE Office, Phoenix on July 17th, 2017.

“Here we are in the sweltering heat of the Arizona summer standing together on the threshold of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to offer a statement and prayer with the ongoing hope that we will one-day experience immigration reform for all of God’s beloved children.

Our heart is heavy this morning as there is no new information in the cases of Ismael Delgado and Sixto Paz who are still in sanctuary at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix as they can only wait as with pray for them and their families that they may no longer be separated by the confines of the walls of Shadow Rock. We continue to pray for Marco Tulio and his family as we journey and join with them in the fight to bring him home to his wife and children.

We want to end by sharing a quote from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In sharing this quote, we hope it inspires all of us as we continue to move forward in our efforts to ensure Immigration reform for all people. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shares, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort convenience, but where he stands in times of challenges and controversy.” As a people of faith and good conscious, we challenge to everyone to think about how we will stand with our neighbors as they face times of challenge and controversy as walls are built which separate them from a life of comfort and familiarity. When will the officials in the confines of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office raise their voice and speak up on behalf of those who have been treated unjustly as they await their fate in a broken immigration system?

Friends, I ask that you take a deep breath and join me in a time of prayer…

Loving God we come to you seeking your presence as we offer our heartfelt hope and prayers for those who are trapped in an unjust world. We continue to prayer for Misael, Marco, Ismael, Sixto, and Alfred as we journey with them so that they may no longer be bound by the confines of a broken immigration system. God, we ask that you show us as a people of faith and conscious how to be the light in the darkness of challenge and controversy in our world today. Go forth knowing that we are a people of hope fighting for justice in an unjust world. And All of God’s People say Amen!!”

Look for reports on other activities of our Social Justice Team in Sunday Bulletins and the Palm Leaf.

 

Social Justice Team

  

Photos contributed by Linda Rouches and Jan Hutchins

CHURCH OF THE PALMS
SOCIAL JUSTICE TEAM:
MOVING FORWARD

Working for JUSTICE through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team (CoPSJT) is moving forward by addressing two immediate issues of concern and three important issues to be addressed in the future.

The CoPSJT, consisting of 19 members, is zeroing in on LGBTQ Equality and Immigration/Refugee Assistance. Future issues to be addressed include: Religious / Racial Discrimination, Protecting the Environment, and Criminal Justice Reform.

The team has embraced the “Open and Affirming Congregation” statement adopted in 2015 which reads as follows:

The Church of the Palms, United Church of Christ, welcomes all people into the full life and ministry of our church, regardless of age, race, or gender; personal, mental or physical ability; gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; ethnic, cultural or religious background; marital, social, or economic status; or life history.  We believe that God loves all people and offers us gifts in our diversity.  We affirm families and relationships built on love, respect, responsibility, and trust. You are welcome here!”

In addition, the team has developed and will recommend to the Church Council an “Immigrant / Refugee Welcoming Congregation” statement which reads as follows:

We are followers of Jesus, who welcomed everyone and excluded no one. As members and friends of Church of the Palms, we are called to take action whenever lives are made vulnerable and whenever injustice occurs.  We are moved to stand together with our immigrant/refugee brothers & sisters and their families. Therefore, we declare ourselves an Immigrant/Refugee Welcoming Congregation.”

Specific action steps will be developed for each of the statements listed above in order to move the church and community forward in these issues. Watch for these action steps to be posted on the web page and included in the Palm Leaf.

Calendar of upcoming events:

ICE BREAKER

Thursday, August 17, 2017, 11 AM

2035 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Social Justice Team Meeting

Saturday September 9, 2017, 9:30 AM

Schulz’s

 

These links may also be of interest to you:

The Church of the Palms Open and Affirming Statement ,

UCC.org advocate for justice page

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Report