In Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, we engage the Church in its mission to become more diverse and inclusive of racial, ethnic, cultural and language groups, and we equip women for leadership in all ministries of the Church. We are blessed to see a vision of Pentecost every day. There are Presbyterian Mission Agency offices supporting African, African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino-a, Korean, Middle Eastern, Native American and Portuguese-language emerging ministries. The racial ethnic and new immigrant worshiping communities that we support regularly gather together, constructing a racial ethnic identity that stems from a common history, heritage and language. We work closely with racial ethnic and new immigrant worshiping communities through mid councils, caucus groups, and networks, engaging in the mission to grow, transform, empower, lead and develop communities. We create an awareness of institutional racism in the church and an environment where racial ethnic persons, new immigrants, and women can serve fully in ministry and leadership.
In our ministries we work to achieve gender and racial justice and equip racial ethnic women, men and young adults for leadership. We assist college-age and racial ethnic young women in their faith journeys and foster networks of support for them.
As we discover how to share the gospel in an increasingly diverse culture, we have a greater chance of living out the Biblical vision of a world where the humanity of everyone is valued and where God’s love is spread to every race, class, culture and people.
We Are Immigrants and Refugees: God’s Intercultural Community
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens
with the saints and also members of the household of God
— Ephesians 2:19
We have heard a lot lately about the U.S. government’s policy changes regarding immigration. The rhetoric that surrounds this discussion not only affects immigrants and refugees but affects us all.
This April issue of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries e-newsletter focuses on the experiences of being an immigrant or refugee in this climate in North America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s response. In Racial Ethnic & Women’s ministries, we approach this conversation not from the standpoint of those who propose policies or even from the view of those in churches who welcome immigrants and refugees, though we are grateful for these congregations. In Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, we are immigrants and refugees. We are opening our front doors, rolling down our car windows, and leaving our houses of worship and being approached and asked to prove that we are citizens or legal residents, often based solely upon our profile. Rev. Lemuel Garcia is the Associate Director of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries. The following are some of his reflections:
Citizens of God’s Reign
by Lemuel Garcia
Fear and anguish spread among the immigrant community in Austin, Texas, and other major cities in the United States in early February. The U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Office (ICE) confirmed that agents had raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Mexican Consulate in Austin reported that 49 Mexican nationals were detained in the area over a 48-hour period. In a number of cases not only were families split but entire households were taken into custody to start deportation proceedings, even though some members of those families were U.S. citizens.
But anxiety and fear led to action as spontaneous demonstrations started to happen throughout predominately Latino neighborhoods in Central Texas and fliers reading “know your rights” were distributed. Marches began to be organized as part of a nationwide campaign called “A Day Without Immigrants,” where immigrants and their supporters left school or work to emphasize how essential immigrants are in society.
In our current political climate, it would appear that being an immigrant, asylum-seeker, refugee or from a different ethnicity than the predominant one is a crime. Bans on refugees have been issued and racism and discrimination are on the rise in places that were considered safe like schools, houses of worship and workplaces. We have been labeled as “strangers” if we happen to speak English with a foreign accent or have different family traditions than the majority.
It is at such times as these that we need to remind ourselves and members of our communities that God’s love and grace are extended to all, regardless of national or ethnic origin and what society says or does to us. When asked if we are citizens we can assertively respond that we are no aliens or strangers. We are indeed citizens of the Reign of God and also members of God’s household. (cf. Ephesians 2:19).
Rhashell D. Hunter
Read the Racial Ethnic Torch
In the current issue of the Racial Ethnic Torch, we lift up the work that Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a whole, is doing to shine a light on diversity and reconciliation. Some of the articles featured in this issue include:
- Study finds gender discrimination still pervasive within the PC(USA)
- Diversity and racial reconciliation team
- Coaches trained to meet culturally specific needs