DETROIT – At the start of GA221 the Immigration and Environment Committee began its business by addressing overture 15-04. This overture by Central Florida Presbytery proposed that the PC(USA) recognize formally the newly formed Immigrant Defense Initiative as well as the request of the Office of the General Assembly to fill a vacancy in the Office of Immigration. The recommendation was to have the new person hired serve as a point of connection between the Office of Immigration and The Immigrant Defense Initiative.
Overture advocates spoke passionately about their experiences regarding immigration, ministry in contexts where immigration is a defining issue and the church’s call to respond to the human needs with compassion in the midst of areas of social complexity. Many spoke to the crucial resource that the initiative provides, as well as the additional need for a potential contact person on the national level for churches seeking guidance, information and support with immigration concerns.
A significant moment during committee debate was when a member of committee 15 spoke for the motion in Spanish, having the assistance of a translator to ensure her full participation and engagement. The committee after much discussion added a fourth bullet point to the original overture clarifying the qualities that the new coordinator would possess: “…This staff person should be multilingual, have theological and legal training, community organizing experience, and a passion for justice for all the people of God but especially those who find themselves marginalized and discriminated against by unjust immigration policies.
The original overture was approved with this addition – 49 in favor, 8 opposed.
Allison Becker is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. She has has a passion for declaring the gospel through creative means-preaching, teaching, dance and the arts.