Advocacy weekend to focus on migrants, refugees and displaced people
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The agenda is coming together for Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day this April in Washington, D.C. Dr. Matilde Moros, a transnational feminist Christian ethicist, will be the keynote speaker for the daylong gathering on April 20.
CPJ Training Day is part of Advocacy Training Weekend, which runs April 20–23. The Presbyterian portion of the weekend will be held at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, while the remaining portion of the advocacy gathering will take place at the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City. The weekend theme is “A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People.”
“There’s a crisis in our nation in regards to the displacement of people. For some of us, we’ve experienced that one way or another because we are a little bit more mobile,” said Moros. “This is an opportunity to bring together experiences, stories and realities and discuss what it means ethically as a denomination or as a community of Christians.”
Moros is assistant professor with the Department of Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“CPJ Day is about remembering who we have been and moving towards who we can be. We need to learn how we can stand in solidarity with people who are our neighbors, people who are directly affected by our immigration policies,” she said. “I think people forget that we do have an ethical requirement to love our neighbors and our enemies, to do justice and love mercy.”
The current administration’s efforts to limit or prevent immigrants and refugees from coming or staying in the U.S. have generated a lot of discussion and advocacy among faith leaders across the country and across denominations.
Last fall, President Donald Trump signaled an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The decision has resulted in a number of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children being detained and possibly deported.
Moros believes many U.S. citizens don’t realize who is impacted by the president’s decision.
“These people have been our neighbors who walk side-by-side with us every day, taking kids to the bus stop, working with us in our different workplaces,” said Moros. “These are the families that all of a sudden are not there or will not be there, people who are so intricately involved in our lives. People who are being targeted have been here 30 or 40 years and they are professionals, everyday workers at every level and they are not from one region of the world.”
The president has given Congress until March 5 to pass legislation replacing the DACA program, which currently covers approximately 800,000 people.
“People are living in crisis. People don’t get up and leave for another part of the world unless they are going through a crisis,” she said. “We are the ones who need a wake-up call. We have somehow become oblivious to that level of pain.”
Moros is hopeful that CPJ Training Day attendees will come away from the gathering with the courage to get involved.
“I think that people feel they are alone and won’t always act because they don’t feel they have enough information,” she said. “When you come to a space like this, you realize there is a mandate and Scripture, there are tools within the denomination that people can use. We have a history of tradition and a Scriptural mandate. Relationships we make in conference can be a source of strength and courage. We need to gather each other’s resources in order to move forward together.”
CPJ Training Day will include panel discussions as well as several plenaries and workshops around these critical issues.
Nearly 1,000 Christian advocates across several denominations are expected to attend the entire weekend. On Monday, April 23, participants are encouraged to attend “Lobby Day,” which will include visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill.
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