By Rev. Sherry Brady, Chairman DSC Immigration Task Force
Many United Methodist churches are faithfully responding to the daily needs of newly arriving immigrants by serving immigrant communities. While these services are essential, they will not bring about the necessary legislative reform to fix the badly broken immigration system. We need reform to provide legal status for undocumented immigrants, to reunify their families, to uphold the rights and dignity of immigrants, and to ensure that those rights are maintained. Congregations that provide direct services for immigrants witness the brokenness of the current system and are in the best position to advocate for justice for and with immigrants. Service and justice are most effectively done out of incarnational relationships with immigrants; immersing ourselves in immigrant communities so that hopes, dreams, and fears are shared mutually.
The goal with the journey to become an Immigrant Welcoming Community is to equip churches to travel from mercy to justice, from service-only relationships to incarnational friendships, and from ministering to immigrants to being transformed alongside them.
Who can journey to become an Immigrant Welcoming Community?
This journey is for ALL United Methodists, regardless of theological leanings or prior engagement in this issue. While congregations are encouraged to move through this journey together, becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Community is a journey that is also open to individual Sunday school classes, United Methodist Women units, Wesley Foundations, youth groups, and other groups within congregations.
The purpose is to deepen and widen the involvement of United Methodists in relationship with immigrants and to work for immigrant justice while inviting people to deepen their understanding and build relationships based on mutuality and love. The journey is about moving forward in a process within a class, unit, group, community, or entire congregation and supporting other communities in the region, while expanding the network of faith communities who demonstrate a public and moral voice for building welcoming communities.
What are the steps involved in becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Community?
There are four steps that can happen inside a period of four months. Each step in this four-month journey includes an action or learning experience of some kind, discussion and reflection, and planning for the next step. Sol Cotto, Director of Immigrant Welcoming Communities, will provide curriculum materials and helpful thoughts along the way. The four steps that make up the journey are:
Month 1: Understanding and Articulating Our Faith
Month 2: Building Incarnational Relationships
Month 3: Education for Transformation
Month 4: Prayerful Witness & Affirming Our Commitment
What can I do right now to begin the journey?
Gather one or two others from your community who will serve as the leadership for guiding your community through this journey. The leadership team will receive all of the materials and lead the discussions and action steps. It is crucial that leadership in your community is involved in these discussions and is part of this team.
Once the leadership team is organized, contact Sol at and discuss the time frame to begin the journey.