In September of 2017, Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. set out on a journey to learn, understand and gain compassion for some of the world’s most marginalized individuals, immigrants. The church started a study “Awakening to Immigrant Justice” to learn about the plight of immigrants, documented and undocumented, in the United States.
A portion of the Awakening to Immigrant Justice pilgrimage was learning some tangible ways to help. Members of Myers Park heard from volunteers of the Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta (NSMA), an interfaith, multicultural immigrant rights organization and from El Refugio in Lumpkin, Ga., a ministry of hospitality and visitation serving immigrants at Stewart Detention Center and their families and friends.
Both of these ministries strive to listen to the stories of immigrants in their communities. They also offer hospitality and support to immigrants who are at risk for separation from their families and loved ones. And most importantly they educate the non-immigrant community about the complexity of the immigration system in their communities.
Some of the ways that individuals and congregations can help are to learn about the issues of immigration and advocate for humane, compassionate, and sensible public policies and laws which impact the immigrant community.
In addition to advocating, groups that works with immigrants and their families can support immigrants along the immigration path in North Caroline, South Carolina and Georgia through:
Court Watch Programs: The Immigration Court Watch Program works with immigration courts to teach volunteers how to become a trained court observer. Court watchers help protect the due process rights of individuals in immigration proceedings. No previous legal training is necessary.
Donations: The Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. is located in rural Georgia about 2 hours from Atlanta. Churches involved in The New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta and El Refugio provide free food and lodging for families traveling to Stewart to visit detained individuals. Individuals can support these ministries through monetary donations or volunteering with these organizations. In addition to these two organizations, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy assists unrepresented immigrants at Charlotte Immigration Court with a 10-minute consultation, education, and referrals to help them understand the legal process.
For more information about The New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta, please visit sanctuarymovementatl.org/join.
For more information about El Refugio, visit elrefugiostewart.org/visit-us.
For more information about the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, please visit lssp.org.
For more information about the Immigration Court Watch Program, please visit crln.org/immigration-court-watch-program.
Read more in the Awakening to Immigrant Justice Series:
Related commentary at baptistnews.com:
On the border: ‘Children of a lesser god’ | Bill Leonard
Inviolate! The protection of all children | Kathy Manis Findley
Related news at baptistnews.com:
Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. embarked on a sacred pilgrimage to listen, learn and discern how God is calling them as individuals and as a Church to seek justice for America’s immigrants. The group followed the route to Georgia many undocumented immigrants in North Carolina must follow after being detained. These pilgrims had prepared with a year-long study titled ‘Awakening to Immigrant Justice.’ The culmination of the study helped open their eyes to the complex, convoluted and, in many cases, inhumane ways newcomers are treated in this country.
This series in the “Welcoming the Stranger” project is part of the BNG Storytelling Projects Initiative. In “Welcoming the Stranger,” we share the inspiring stories of the people and faith communities that are teaching us all to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Seed money to launch our Storytelling Projects initiative and our initial series of projects has been provided through generous grants from the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation and the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. For information about underwriting opportunities for Storytelling Projects, contact David Wilkinson, BNG’s executive director and publisher, at [email protected] or 336.865.2688.