Immigration and Creation Care

May 1, 2013

This summer the biennial Mennonite Church USA convention will be held in Phoenix.  Along with plenty of time for worship and fellowship, two pressing topics that will be addressed will be immigration and creation care.

The strict and controversial 2010 immigration law in Arizona was cause for much discussion across the church as to whether or not we should be holding a convention in that state in the first place.  Rather than go the route of a boycott, denominational leadership is taking it as an opportunity to bring our focus on the realities of immigration policy and its effects on families, many of whom are in our congregations across the country.  One of the beautiful things about the church is that even if issues do not affect our personal lives on an everyday basis, through our fellowship we are connected with brothers and sisters for whom this is very much the case.  So it becomes a family issue.  In Cincinnati, there is a rally today, May 1, starting at 5:30, at Washington Park titled “Workers and their families for citizenship.”  The rally will call for comprehensive immigration reform on the national level, and will include a walk to Cincinnati City Hall to celebrate City Council’s recent passage of Cincinnati being an immigrant friendly city.  It’s late notice, but perhaps we will see you there!  Keep tuned in to denominational publications to hear stories and editorials on the experience of immigrants in our country.

In Phoenix delegates will also be voting on a creation care resolution, calling for study of and consciousness raising with our broken relationship to creation.  I’m thrilled this is happening and am hopeful for what can come out of it.  I have also been in discussion with a number of pastors who believe that simply focusing on the personal aspects of education and what we can do as individuals and congregations is not enough.  The nature of the crisis calls for a systemic approach.  One of the most compelling movements I am aware of these days is a call for divestment from oil companies.  The basic argument is that oil companies have made it their business plan to release enough carbon into the air to wreak havoc on the planet’s biosphere for generations to come.  The underground “assets” of oil reserves are already on their books.  In THIS article in Christian Century, Bill McKibbon makes what I find to be a quite compelling argument why divestment is a necessary move at this time.  Our denominational stewardship organization, Everence, does have holdings in a number of oil companies, including ConocoPhilips, BP, Marathon, and Shell, and there are a number of us who will be calling into question whether this is a wise use of our resources.

As diverse and strained as we are on various issues, it’s good to be a part of a denomination that confronts these difficult issues together.

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