The writing was on the wall

Writing on white boardActually it was on the white board.

And it was pretty cool.

Love God
Love yourself
Love others

It has been a while since the board in our conference room has seen such creativity.

A group of six high school students (one of whom has actually graduated is “still a high schooler at heart”) from Medina Presbyterian Church arrived on Monday for a seminar. Immigration in the United States was the topic they selected.

We adapted the order of the seminar a bit as thye arrived. We began by talking about the situation in South Kordofan, Sudan. Ryan Smith, Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations explained that hew was going to a meeting with our faith-based NGO partners to consider prayerfully how we might advocate for people on behalf of the people of Sudan. After some discussion about the situation and how our minisry engages in advocacy, guided by policies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we told the group about the Season of Prayer with the People of Sudan. And then we prayed.

Ellen Clark Clémot, who is working with the ministry as an intern this summer led a “get-to-know-each-other” group building activity. It focused on communicating within our differences. Participants were given animal characters and assigned the task of finding their partners—using only the sounds made by the animals. Among the embarrassed laughter came the insight of how good it feels to hear a known, shared language—even when the language is werewolf. A good discussion followed about welcoming one another.

Jacki Esposito of the New York Immigration Coalition presented an overview of immigration policies and realities. She also helped the group explore myths around immigration. For example, “unauthorized immigrants” pay a significant amount of taxes.

Martin López and Tania Mattos, of the New York State Youth Leadership Council, led a workshop on the DREAM Act. Together, they helped the group consider how this legislation would address the situation faced by young adults who were brought to this country as children and are undocumented, who have worked hard and graduated from high school, who have dreams and want to make a contribution to our society.

A presentation followed on the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations – why we are present in the United Nations community – how we have been involved with the UN community through the year – and how we help Presbyterians live as global disciples of Jesus.  Group members filled in Red Hands cards to call nations to address the issue of children being used as soldiers by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

We closed our time together by joining in the Creed for Immigrants written by José Luis Casal, General Missioner of Tres Rios Presbytery.

The group then went across the street to visit the United Nations.

Throughout the seminar, participants drew and wrote on the white board—sharing their experiences—processing their learnings—and proclaiming good news:

Love God
Love yourself
Love others

The photo is by Ricky Velez-Negron.

Your gifts to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations make the seminar program possible.

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