|Professional interpreters make sure everyone |
can follow along in both English and Spanish.
The fellowship hall at United Church of Chapel Hill was filled with faith leaders looking for comrades, searching for creative ways to tell the truth about immigration in North Carolina. Rev. Ismael Ruiz-Millán, director of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, weaved accounts of immigrant struggle together with a lively scriptural imagination in his keynote address. For Rev. Ruiz-Millán, to stand with his friends to make communities better for immigrants is a way of practicing resurrection. That is, the very act of solidarity is in itself the account of the hope that is within us.
|Mauricio Castro from the NC Latino Coalition leads a |
workshop on North Carolina Legislation and Lobbying
Castro began by evoking the late Archbishop of San Salvador, Óscar Romero, whose prophetic witness against social injustice exemplified Castro’s greatest hopes of organizing for immigration reform in his home state. Unveiling the forces in North Carolina that prevent people from flourishing, Castro pointed back to the painful effects of two anti-immigration bills passed in June 2011. In addition, he described the anti-immigration aims of the Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy, and the upcoming legislative session that may well see consideration of new measures to make undocumented workers and immigrant families unwelcome in North Carolina.
Castro then pointed forward, calling for a mobilization of faith leaders with specific strategies to bend North Carolina legislation toward justice, making all communities better for immigrants. He urged leaders to take power analysis seriously, to know how strong are the forces against immigration reform. Yet, far from painting a paralyzing picture of insurmountable challenge, Castro and other seminar leaders evoked a desire for something better. The conversations reminded us that not even the most ardent of opponents to immigration reform are outside the possibilities of conversion. Indeed, even Romero’s courage to speak against social injustice came after his own unexpected conversion.
It was a day marked by a powerful underlying story: faith leaders are active, and congregations will not stand idly by while immigrant communities suffer. And in these months following the Faith and Immigration Statewide Summit, I imagine it will be a springboard for more conversations to be had and meals to be shared. Indeed, I am tempted to say, that the spirit of Romero is alive in North Carolina.
*I am borrowing the phrase “make communities better for immigrants” from the Latino Migration Project, which takes this to be its mission.
Did you miss the Summit but want to hear some of the workshops? You can listen to the recordings here as podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nc-council-of-churches/id571816854. You can find additional resources addressing immigration on the CBFNC website: http://www.cbfnc.org/Missions/Immigration.aspx. This blog post originally appeared on the North Carolina Council of Churches' blog.