Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
September 2019 | Border Witness

This issue of Bearings explores the ways in which people of faith and communities of faith are engaging the challenges related to immigration and migration to the United States. The Rev. Robin Denney shares reflections from a pilgrimage she took with young adults to El Salvador, where they worked with community activists who address the factors contributing to displacement and migration. Ralph Basui Watkins offers a moving story of the impact of immigration in the intimate sphere of the family and how that shapes ministry practice. The Rev. Canon Anthony Guillén, The Rev. Francisco García, and The Rev. Al Rodriguez offer robust commentary on why the concept of whiteness itself must be challenged in mainline churches in order to develop solidarity with immigrants and refugees. And poet-activist Viktoria Valenzuela gathers a moving collection of poetic witness from the San Antonio activist group 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Finally, we share UCC pastor Janet Dorman‘s insights on immigration with a re-publication of her 2016 article, “What the Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Other ‘Invasive Species’ Can Teach the Church.” Rich with resources for individuals and communities, the issue aims to challenge, encourage, and inspire as we all contend with the call of faith to welcome the stranger among us.

From the Editor

Bearing Witness at the Border

People of Faith Welcoming Strangers to a Hostile America

Coming back from what seems to be an increasingly shorter summer hiatus, we often incline to focus Bearings on somewhat more congenial concerns by way of ramping into a publication season that we know will face its share of challenges. But this time around, living in the world we all inhabit together, that didn't seem to the responsible way to go. That doesn't... Read more
Featured Article

Nurturing a New Generation of Immigration Activists in the Church

Witnessing with Young Adults Yields Resources for Congregational Engagement

“How did I never learn about this in school?!” Last month, I stood with a group of young people at the site of the largest massacre in modern Central American history, El Mozote, El Salvador. More than 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were systematically and brutally executed by government forces in 1981. We learned about how the U.S. had provided... Read more

Can the Church Welcome the Stranger without Challenging Mainline Christian Whiteness?

Examining Race to Build Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees

The demands on us related to immigration are overwhelming and may seem insurmountable. There seems to be no end to the mass suffering and injustice being inflicted on immigrant families—in particular children and youth—who are simply trying to survive in the midst of economic despair, violence, and other uncertainties. As people of faith rooted in the values of... Read more
Featured Article

Ministry, Marriage, and Immigration

A Love Story

I was raised in Eatonville, Florida—the oldest all-black, incorporated town in the country. Eatonville sits between Daytona Beach and Orlando. We are smack dab in the middle of central Florida (thus the name of our university, the University of Central Florida). Eatonville was not a hot bed for immigration issues. It was a small all black town with dirt roads and... Read more
Creative Insights

Speaking from One Heart

Poets Against Walls and Cages

Peace has been hard to find for families being separated at the border. As people seek a safe and sustainable life here in the United States, they are criminalized for making the attempt to cross the United States border, and Texas poets across the state are calling for justice. On any given day, immigration policy will change at the drop of a tweet, and families... Read more
From Our Archives

What the Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Other “Invasive Species” Can Teach the Church

Some years ago, while living in San Francisco, I encountered the parrots of Telegraph Hill. I was walking through a park on the Embarcadero, the city’s western waterfront, when I heard a racket overhead. Looking up, I could see bright flashes of color moving in the branches and occasionally taking flight among the eucalyptus trees. Startling to hear and see,... Read more