Banner in Gathering Area

immigrants_welcome_order_pageHave you noticed the new banner in the gathering area? The Reconciliation Ministry requested that this banner be hung as Advent turned to Christmastide and throughout the Season of Reconciliation. They saw in this a clear linkage between the biblical story that forms us as followers of Jesus and the very contentious conversation happening in our civic life regarding the place of immigrants and refugees in our communities. The request went to consistory and it stimulated a lively conversation. Should the banner be hung at all? Should it be hung above the church steps as a message to our community about the welcome immigrants and refugees could expect from our congregation? Or should it be hung in our gathering area to stimulate conversation and awareness within our congregation?

Consistory members had very different perspectives on this:

  • A sign like this is an important signal to some of the most vulnerable in our community that we stand with them and celebrate their presence among us
  • A sign like this is political and divisive at a time that is already divisive enough
  • A sign like this is a clear witness to the good news of the gospel
  • A sign like this is self-righteous and self-congratulatory

Ultimately the consistory decided to hang the banner in the gathering area with the hope of stimulating the same kind of rich exchange and dialogue that occurred within the consistory itself. You may not know this but the consistory has a policy to guide decisions like these. One of the lines of the Statement on Social Activism says: “When such situations arise (to address injustice and care for God’s world), Consistory will acknowledge the diversity among us and weigh carefully the impulse to speak, our desire for unity, and the effectiveness and impact of a statement (or action).” We would love to hear your thoughts on this banner. You can send your comments to the church office for the Reconciliation Ministry to review.

The Reconciliation Ministry also invites you to an evening of education and conversation on the topic of Immigration. Hope Church, Grace Episcopal Church, and First Presbyterian Church are sponsoring an evening program on January 11 at 6:30-8:30 pm here at Hope Church entitled “Seeking a Christian Perspective on Immigrants in our Community.” It is a two-hour presentation that invites questions and participation from the audience. Speaker will be Sarah Yore-VanOosterhout from Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. Watch the bulletin for more details.