Monday, September 26, 2011

Dream Sabbath

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, 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 or post your participation at so we can share word of your service with others.

Will Willimon


bham billy said...

This sounds like an awesome ministry.
Good luck

foxofbama said...

Bishop Willimon: Below is an article published in Ft. Payne Times Journal Today.
I hope you and Revs. Lacey and Lyons can find a way to have a conversation with the State Senator from these parts, one of the most densely Hispanic populated areas of the state.

Thrown out
"These people that brought up things about, you can't be a good Samaritan and if you are, you're going to be arrested - she threw out that argument, threw out the case they filed." - Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville

Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Rich thinks judge followed law David Clemons Times-Journal | 0 comments

A co-sponsor of Alabama's new immigration law said he was pleased a judge upheld several key provisions.

"I thought she pretty much went by the Constitution and the law," said state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville.

"I was pleased that she upheld the biggest part of it."

Judge Sharon Blackburn of the federal court in Birmingham allowed several parts of the law to take effect. She ruled that federal law doesn't prohibit checking the immigration status of students, or of suspects pulled over by police.

Blackburn didn't stand in the way of provisions that let police hold suspected immigrants without bond and that make it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state.

She blocked a part of the law that makes it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant, pending a final ruling.

Rich, whose district includes portions of southern DeKalb County, said Blackburn tossed the argument that the law stands in the way of Christian ministry.

"These people that brought up things about, you can't be a good Samaritan and if you are, you're going to be arrested - she threw out that argument, threw out the case they filed.

"I don't believe anybody believes that there's a single law enforcement officer in this state that would arrest somebody taking people to and from church."

Some 150 United Methodist pastors opposed the law. Rich is a member of a United Methodist church in Albertville and said most of his fellow church members agree with the new law.

"Most of them thought that Bishop (Will) Willimon was off-base," Rich said.

"I've never met Bishop Willimon. I understand from what I'm told is that he's a good man and a sincere man. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

"Him and some others got off on this deal about good Samaritans, and that's not part of this. If you look at the law, if you want to base your opinion on facts - and I know that's a little hard for some people to do - there's all kinds of exceptions in the law. And there's a provision in the Alabama Constitution that covers that as well."

Rich also rejected the criticism about asking for immigration documents on children enrolling in schools.

"The first thing that they asked for when you register your child in school is they ask for a birth certificate," he said. "If your birth certificate is from the United States, then that tells you something. If it's from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, wherever, then that tells you something.

"All we want are total aggregate numbers. We don't want individuals; weren't asking for that. We wanted numbers so we would have an idea of how much it's costing us to educate illegals and can use that in arguments with the federal government."

End TJ article.
I have linked your Dream Sabbath blog at SBC Trends, a relatively progressive Baptist discussion board.
I hope you and Lacey and some of our Baptist and Catholic friends can come to Dekalb County soon to discuss some of these matters outside the choir room of Five Points Bham or UMC sanctuaries of Over the Mtn Democrats or other pockets like minded in the state that could use more search for enlightened common ground.

foxofbama said...

Bishop Willimon, Revs Lacey and Lyons
Please have the churches of your district take notice of the hour long national discussion today on NPR on the easily googled Diane Rehm show.
I made a comment there, about number 38.
I do hope you google the Rachel Johnson piece of Huffington post; substantive and wise.

If the formal invitation comes, do hope Bishop Willimon will come to panel in Dekalb or Marshall County on this matter, the heart of the national discussion if NPR and NY Times are an indicator.