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Proactive Preparation for Ministry with Immigrants

by Kathy Donley, pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany, NY

Emmanuel Baptist Church used the season of Lent as an extended time of focused study on immigration. Small groups met in person and on-line to discuss Listen to the Children: Conversations with Immigrant Families by Elizabeth Conde-Frazier. Group members quickly began gathering additional sources of information, including articles about the DREAM act, governmental processes for immigration and deportation, and what could be learned about the local resources available to immigrants. We also watched two feature films:  In America and Amreeka which helped us make more personal, human connections. We invited guests who are already ministering with immigrants to speak at adult forums, including the director of the New Sanctuary for Immigrants in Albany.  Near the end of the season, several of us attended a daylong immigration workshop at the University of Albany where we heard personal stories from recent and past immigrants, presentations of academic studies on immigration, and networks of local agencies and service-providers.

We have occasional contact with immigrants who come to worship with us or who visit the food pantry housed in our church building. Some of us are beginning to establish a relationship with a Karen refugee. Having focused our awareness on the current political context and the very human face of immigration, we are now seeking ways to have more deliberate, helpful contact with the immigrants in our neighborhood. 

For more information contact Kathy Donley kathydonley@nycap.rr.com

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