Immigration and the Bible
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So wrote Lao Tzu in the 6th century B.C.E. This is a journey we have seen many times on our TV’s, as desperate migrants leave their homeland for safe haven elsewhere. Globally, some 200 million people are on the move. How do we understand this phenomenon, and what is ours to do.
For many American Christians, immigration requires another kind of a journey, not a physical one but a spiritual one. How do we move from ignorance to understanding, from judgment to empathy, from anger to compassion. When we look to scripture, what do we find, what do we remember. When we look to Jesus, and inside our own hearts, how do we respond as Christ-followers?
“A Mile in My Shoes: Immigration and the Bible” is a spiritual retreat and an immersion experience, an inward journey and a physical journey as we plunge into one of the most challenging issues of our day. Sponsored by the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, this event is open to lay and clergy leaders from any denomination who are committed to deepening their faith and engaging the world. The dates are October 22-27, 2023, at Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson (http://desertrenewal.org).
Adapting the Upper Room’s highly regarded Academy for Spiritual Formation model, this event includes two full days of immersion, visiting migrant shelters and the border wall, listening to asylum seekers and activists, reflecting on what we have seen and heard. First though we’ll study the scriptures with author and faculty presenter, Karen Gonzalez. Karen’s two books The God Who Sees: Immigrants the Bible, and the Journey to Belong (2019) and Beyond Welcome: Centering Immigrants in our Christian Response to Immigration (2022) tell her own compelling story, as she moved to the US from Guatemala with her family as a child. Encountering loss and alienation, prejudice and compassion, she found hope in scripture and in the church. Artfully and intimately woven into her narrative, her witness opens many places for dialogue and reorientation. Besides her own story, Karen includes insights from her work with immigrants in the nonprofit sector, offering a big picture perspective on immigration policy and practice that every reader will appreciate. Karen’s presentations will bookend our gathering, and her presence will be felt throughout the week.
To find out more about this retreat and to register, please visit “https://dscumc.org/arizona-five-day-academy/”
The cost of the retreat, including lodging, faculty presentations and transportation to the various venues is $925 (for single accommodations) and $825 (for shared accommodations). Scholarships are available. First time participants are particularly welcome. This is the 15th Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation offered by the Desert Southwest Conference. The adaptation of the original model has been approved by The Upper Room’s Academy Director, Johnny Sears. More information about the Academy for Spiritual Formation can be found at their website https://academy.upperroom.org/. You can learn more about Karen Gonzalez from her website https://www.karen-gonzalez.com/.
The Rev. Jerry P. Haas, Retreat Leader