Immigrant Experience

Immigration Advocacy Fund Established

Immigration is a subject constantly in the news headlines these days, but for members of our own Marturia Presbyterian Church - a New Hampshire congregation in the midst of a growing Indonesian community (Presbytery of Northern New England) - it is more than a news topic, it is a lived reality.

Languages, cultures, and immigrant realities are among the many diversities that bless and challenge our ministry as a Synod community. In seeking to be faithful to this blessing, and to stand alongside our immigrant brothers and sisters in the midst of their challenges, the Synod Commission established an Immigration Advocacy Fund at its October 2017 meeting. In doing so, the Commission invites the whole Synod community to engage with our immigrant communities and work in collaboration with them.

Sanctuary Training and Network Developing

We also investigated the important role that our own complicity in systems of oppression present, and the need for majority-white communities in mainline congregations to engage in significant pre-discernment and power analysis before beginning Sanctuary in all its forms.  Communities who are directly affected by policing, anti-immigrant, religious and racial bias need to be given primary voice in all conversations and actions we engage as people of faith.

Breaking Bread in Brokenness to Immigrants

PIM, one of the 1,001 Worshiping Communities and partially funded by the Synod’s Innovation Fund is a ministry of many love stories like this one. The stories of people who come and go, caught up in a system that ignores their humanity. PIM calls them into community with Christ, so that even as they move from detention centers to holding cells to prisons, they know that they are not alone.

O Come, Emanuel in Los Moriches, Long Island

My wife and I minister to a growing community with many immigrants who are coming to Long Island. One young woman we met told us that she was paying $400 for a trip to the Human Resources Office in Manhattan to seek political asylum. Multiple trips at $400 for refugees fleeing persecution! These are not wealthy people. So, we were able to step in and help with transportation and providing a safe community for this young woman, who was also expecting a child. Then in September, when the child was coming, my wife Miriam accompanied the young woman to the hospital. She was there for the delivery of the child—a moment that is like none other.

"We came here to help people"

Lima first came to the United States to assist another pastor in his ministry. He quickly discovered, however, that in many communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Brazilian immigrants lacked a church home. They had worshiped as Presbyterians in Brazil, but now they weren’t able to find a Presbyterian, Portuguese-speaking congregation that understood the unique challenges and opportunities they were facing. Their only option was to go to a church of another tradition, but they weren’t comfortable, Lima says, with the theology or worship.