GA-1935

EMERGENCY RESOLUTION

GA-1935

Sense-of-the-Assembly

CONCERNING STEEP REDUCTIONS IN OVERALL REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT ARRIVALS TO THE UNITED STATES

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WHEREAS, we are called by our sacred scriptures to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner, remembering the words of Jesus that “inasmuch as you did unto one of the least of these…, you did it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40); and

WHEREAS, a refugee is defined as someone outside of his or her country who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group[1]; and

WHEREAS, the number of refugees worldwide has hit an unprecedented high of 70.8 million people as of the January 2019 United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) report, an increase of nearly 2 million from the previous report[2]; and

WHEREAS, while the number of refugees allowed into the United States (U.S.) currently is at an unprecedented low of 30,000, down from an annual average of 95,000 through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program since its inception in 1980[3]; and

WHEREAS, low resettlement ceilings are dismantling the refugee resettlement infrastructure created by our historical ecumenical partners, including Church World Service[4]; and

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has engaged in refugee resettlement for over 75 years, resettling tens of thousands of refugees in the U.S. and Canada[5]; and

WHEREAS, a diversity of Christian communions across traditions support the ministry of resettlement; and

WHEREAS, refugee resettlement plays a critical role in U.S. diplomacy and foreign policy, and demonstrates commitment to U.S. global allies that already host the largest number of refugees; and

WHEREAS, officials within the current U.S. Administration will soon recommend a refugee resettlement ceiling for Fiscal Year 2020[6]; and

WHEREAS, as of July 2, 2019, 8,818 refugees have been approved for travel to the U.S. and an additional 29,362 have passed required Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interviews, and may face danger if they are not allowed to enter the U.S. for resettlement;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on July 20-24, 2019, calls on members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to urge their congregations to engage in refugee resettlement among those who are arriving to their area; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly calls on members and congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to share their faith values of hospitality for refugees, in both private and public statements, through all forms of media, to deepen awareness of vastly reduced refugee resettlement numbers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that organizations such as Refugee & Immigration Ministries of Disciples Home Missions, Week of Compassion, and other ministries, provide communications and information to congregations to encourage their support for heightened U.S. refugee resettlement numbers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) make a formal public statement denouncing cuts to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and work with ecumenical partners to support a return to at least the historic U.S. average of 95,000 refugees resettled annually; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are encouraged to contact the Office of the U.S. President and their legislators to reaffirm the long commitment of Disciples to refugee resettlement and urge the administration to protect the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement Program and restore the resettlement ceiling to at least the U.S. historic average.[7]

Rev. Dr Ike Nicholson, Senior Minister, South Suburban Christian Church, Littleton, CO
Rev. Jackie Twedell, Senior Minister, Bethany Christian Church, Richmond, VA
Rev. Virzola Law, Senior Minister, Northway Christian Church, Dallas, TX
Rev. Jake Caldwell, Senior Minister, FCC Hagerstown, MD
Rev. Rebekah Krevens, Foothills Christian Church, Glendale, Az
Rev. Jason Grow, Senior Minister, Bondurant Christian Church, Bondurant, IA
Kandice Williams, First Christian Church, Danville KY
Rev. Jeff Gill, Senior Minister, Central Christian Church, Newark OH
Rev. Megan Huston, Senior Minister, First Christian Church Bowling Green, KY
Rev. Evan M. Dolive, First Christian Church (DOC), Longview, TX
Rev. Caleb Lines, University Christian Church, Senior Minister, San Diego, CA
Rev. Steve Sherman, Senior Minister, First Christian Church Oak Ridge, TN
Milca Rivera, Co-Pastor, Iglesia Cristiana de Deltona, Deltona, FL

 

[1] https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/
[2] UNHCR 2018 Report, January 2019  https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5d08d7ee7.pdf  UNHCR 2017 Report, January 2018  https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5b27be547.pdf
[3] https://cwsglobal.org/cws-denounces-trump-administrations-unwillingness-to-meet-its-refugee-resettlement-goal/
[4] https://cwsglobal.org/cws-responds-with-outrage-to-reports-that-administration-officials-have-proposed-ending-refugee-resettlement/ and page 20 of Refugee Council USA Report http://www.rcusa.org/report
[5] Previous General Assembly Resolutions: GA7127; GA7574; GA7945; GA7951; GA8330; GA8549; GA8775; GA9138; GA9720
[6] https://www.archivesfoundation.org/documents/refugee-act-1980/
[7]https://greateras1.org/time-is-now-save-the-life-saving-refugee-resettlement-program/?utm_source=cwsglobal&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=alert190718

Bonus content

GA News chalicesThese stories are not included in the print version of the General Assembly News.

by Jeff Gill

#Hashtags

An old saying in our tradition is that “the Disciples don’t have bishops, we have editors.” Today, with everyone serving as their own editor of social media content, we need tools to help us sip from the firehouse of available information online. Hashtags are an easily accessible tool for anyone.

This was not the first General Assembly with hashtags, but #DisciplesSoar marked a new approach from the former acronym and year type (like #ga13doc). Twitter & Facebook users could include #DisciplesSoar so that even others who didn’t know them could search that hashtag and see everyone commenting, in real time, at the event. The phrase both picked up the theme of the General Assembly, and kept in front of everyone a reminder of what our gathering and the social media communications were trying to accomplish.

While #DisciplesSoar helped social media users find each other and share thoughts and hopes, it also gave rise to a few accompanying “snarktags,” like #DisciplesSore for those whose feet were feeling the length of the convention center hallways, or #DisciplesShiver some nights when the air conditioning kicked into high.

Overall, #DisciplesSoar created a searchable archive of experiences and reactions to the General Assembly experience. Even if you aren’t a Twitter or Facebook user yourself, you can go to those websites, and in the search box, type in #DisciplesSoar and scroll back to review what’s been said, and what’s being considered for the future.

Social Media, Smartphones, and Soaring

Many of the speakers, readers, and presenters at the General Assembly were seen up on the big screens of the plenary hall looking at their smaller personal ones.

Smartphones aren’t new in 2015, but their reliability, flexibility, and comprehensiveness meant everything from reading scripture passages to keeping with the assembly script was done from phones. Note cards are more and more a thing of the past, let alone scribbles on the back of an envelope!

Out on the local mission sites, Disciples found their way to unfamiliar settings with relative ease using their phone apps. Voting delegates checked amendments to resolutions without waiting for ushers to hand them paper at the door, and many had the entire docket on phones or tablets.

Worship offered a chance for interactivity through the assembly #DisciplesSoar hashtag and the evening’s theme words, resulting in reflections of 140 characters some of which went up for all to share in. The handwritten & thumbtacked message board in the hallway got relatively little use, as most assembly goers were getting texts and tweets directly to wherever they sat.

On the internet, an interesting assortment of imaginary characters offered their . . . unique takes on assembly proceedings (@DisciplesHulk & @DoCBatman were but a few), and even the large glass communion cup had a Twitter feed, @MegachaliceDOC. They were far outnumbered by actual people, faces and names behind social media accounts that were the source of many an encounter in the corridors or exhibit hall: “Hey, we’ve never met before, have we? But I feel like we’ve known each other a long time!” Social media, like the idea of a General Assembly itself, brings Disciples together from across distances and backgrounds who might never otherwise have been in dialogue.

 

 

Mission made a difference in Columbus

Local media coverage – Columbus Dispatch  |   Channel 4

By Jeff Gill

Potato drop with the Society of St. Andrew

GA news missions boys“When we needed something, word went out, and it always showed up,” said Ted Thomas of Northwest Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He and his wife Barb were on the Local Arrangements Committee for the General Assembly, and got a call from Jim Rivers of Wadsworth, Ohio’s First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Could Ted help put together a plan for receiving and distributing 42,000 pounds of potatoes?

With Wendy Taylor, pastor of The Delaware Project, a Disciples of Christ new church start north of Columbus, they brought together a plan, as Fourth Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) provided the place, John Romig, pastor of Gender Road Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offered his own skid steer and trailer, and the Society of St. Andrew provided the bulk shipment of potatoes. It was up to GA volunteers to provide the hands (and backs!) to shift and sort the broken down 50 pound bags into allocations of 10 pound bag piles, from a 100 to 800 pound loads.

Food pantries from all around the Columbus area showed up on a carefully planned timetable to pick up their share of spuds, and over twenty tons of potatoes went from a solidly packed semi-load to all gone, between dawn and lunchtime.

ReStore gets a boost

GA news missions HabitatHabitat for Humanity-MidOhio operates a “ReStore” northeast of downtown Columbus; this vast building looks like many home improvement outlets, but there’s a very different feel when you step inside.

One difference is the giant “Volunteer Center” sign just inside the door. Where you might expect to find a customer service desk, the service is provided by volunteers from stocking to clerking. The Habitat for Humanity concept around the world is that sweat equity and no-interest loans are the levers that allow a family wanting a home of their own to help build it, alongside community volunteers led by churches and people of faith who pray, sing, shingle, smile, mix mud, sort studs, and get the job done.

A ReStore is where the community support in the form of donated building supplies and interior finishing materials are available to anyone for a modest price. If Habitat has more than they need for current homes, they’d like to put those supplies to work.

That takes help just to keep the shelves stacked and offerings sorted, and that’s where General Assembly volunteers came in, spending a morning making sure that what might help keep a house in shape is on display.

Knitting for Open Shelter

GA News Mission KNITEllen Huffman and Seth Stout, Disciples of Christ pastors in central Ohio, are helping take an ancient spiritual discipline and placing it right in the heart of the General Assembly.

Knitting!

We all have those images of the mothers of the church, often those with years of wisdom and experience, in the heart of our gatherings whether church parlors or even in the sanctuary, calmly knitting their way through sharing their wisdom and peace with the rest of us.

“We’re teaching people to knit, and we’re giving knitters a place to knit, and making scarves for The Open Shelter here in Columbus,” says Stout. Wielding an oversize pair of knitting needles (“they make it easier, especially for beginners” Seth adds), he sat spreading peace and goodwill one skein of yarn at a time, right in the heart o of the General Assembly traffic.

Each time you pass, the number of knitters and the faces may change, but not the peace that radiates from their work, and their presence.

Sleeping mats featured intergenerational manufacturing

GA News Mission plarnWhen our Disciples Youth at the General Assembly team up with Disciples Women, you know something’s going to happen, and it’s going to be big. But what is plarn?

A massive pile of recyclable grocery bags, brought to Columbus by assembly-goers from all over the continent, is being broken down into strips, and woven together into sleeping mats for the homeless. Everyone agrees that adequate, safe shelter is best, but there are still so many in our communities, including in central Ohio, where people are still on the streets, hidden into the landscape . . . even just blocks away from the convention center.

Working with The Open Shelter serving the homeless in Columbus, the youth and women of the church have learned how to take the recycled plastic of grocery bags, and make it into plarn, a sort of plastic yarn (pla-plastic, yarn-rn: get it?). Woven properly, you create an insulating layer along with some cushioning when you make it into a mat, and “if you’ve really figured out how to do this,” says co-regional minister Cathy Myers Wirt, “you can weave it into a pillow, too.”

Making mats for the homeless is both a gesture of support towards those needs, but it’s a way to increase our own awareness of housing needs in our own communities, one row of fresh understandings woven in our hearts and minds at a time.