While leading the rebuilding of our beloved Woodlawn Church in Birmingham, The Reverend Matt Lacey has also led a revitalization of our Conference mission work, a vibrant tradition of the North Alabama Conference. I have marveled at all of the ways Matt, a true missionary among us, has led us. Grateful for Matt’s work in immigration ministry, I asked him to be our representative in the work of Dream Sabbath. Here is how your congregation can be part of this ministry this October.
Imagine the future of children in the United States being taken away, often through no decision of their own. Being stripped all their hard work, education, friends, and dreams, often through a decision that someone else made when they were too young to understand. This is the story of many children in this country who are undocumented.
The United Methodist Church is part of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a group of more than thirty national organizations representing Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Islamic faith communities. The Coalition is sponsoring Dream Sabbath, an opportunity for people of faith around the country to express support for the thousands of young people who were brought to this country as infants or children and who, though not documented residents, have nevertheless worked hard to succeed in school and to be good citizens of their communities.
The Dream Act is a proposed federal law that would make it possible for these young people to earn legal status if they complete high school or get a GED and then enroll in college or university or serve in our Armed Forces. You may have seen some of these young people, known as the Dreamers, when they held peaceful vigil outside the federal courthouse here in Birmingham and attended the August 24 hearing on the bishops’ challenge to Alabama’s new immigration law, HB 56. They are an impressive group of teenagers who are taking a risk by speaking out publicly and telling their stories, stories that sound very much like those of any teenager raised to believe in “the American Dream.”
However your congregation may feel about Alabama’s new law or about our immigration laws generally, Dream Sabbath is an opportunity for us to share in prayer and worship what it means to respond to these young people through our faith.
Dream Sabbath events can take place anytime, but I’m asking you to schedule a time between now and October 16 for your congregation to participate in this interfaith initiative. It may be through a themed worship service or an element of worship – a sermon, a story, a prayer, a litany, a meditation, a bulletin insert.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition has prepared a number of materials you can use in planning your service. You can find them on the Coalition website, http://www.interfaithimmigration.org If you would like to have one of our local Dreamers come to your service to share their own stories, let me know.
PLEASE help us support the Dreamers by doing three things:
1. Plan an opportunity between now and October 16 to lift up in worship your concern for these young people;
2. Invite your state and federal legislators to be a part of your worship service
3. Go to the Coalition website and register your congregation’s participation in celebrating Dream Sabbath, or send an e-mail to Anne Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your participation at www.facebook.com/missionsnal so we can share word of your service with others.