[Photo by bavetta]

What feels like a million years ago, I was a signatory on a letter to members of congress about Arizona’s law, SB 1070, Presbyterians Issue Statement on AZ Immigration Law. A that time there was great controvery about immigration reform around the country and even greater uproar regarding the ways that AZ was choosing to respond to some of the issues about undocumented folks in their community.

Since then my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), has taken a consistent and controversial stand on the side of the immigrant community.  In fact, now that Kentucky is thinking about adopting a similar law to SB6, we have again expressed our hope for a different response in an official letter from our church leadership, as well as some Presbyterians decended upon Frankfort to express their deep concern.

One of the things that the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church adopted was an overture that directed our national offices to “refrain from holding national meetings at hotels in those states where travel by immigrant Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color or Hispanic ancestry might subject them to harassment.” [Full Outlook Article]

As you can imagine, this has created a great deal of controversy not just about immigration, but how we, as a ideologically diverse body, should respond.  Does anyone even care what we say? How helpful are boycotts? Do we do nothing? Do we stay out of politics? All good questions for large institutions.

I, for one, am still a believer in the power of the boycott. While this can be tough on some workers in the short term, and risk not being successful, often the only way corporate entities are pressed into change is through their pocketbooks.  This can happen through the halting of direct spending or bad press which leads to a reduction of income.  For generations, those who are being boycotted will try deflect attention away from unjust practices and blame those who are standing up for those very workers that they are claiming to protect. In the end, we must remain diligent and committed to bringing light to those things that marginalize and oppress.  In this case, I beleive that we must maintain our pressure on places like AZ and KY so that we may, in the end, choose to find a better solution to our countries immigration polcies so that we can both honor the dignity of the immigrant as well as be good stewards of our nation’s fiscal resources.

It is for this reason that I agreed to sign onto a letter (see below) from the Caucus Nacional Presbiteriano Hispano and Latino Concilio Coordinador urgeing the General Assembly’s Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference to cancel their event to be held later this month in Pheonix.  The letter was signed  by 163 people  among them members of the National Hispanic Caucus Coordinating Council, 4 former General Assembly Moderators, 25 Middle Governing Body Staff, 21 General Assembly Staff, 11 members of our Theological, Educational & Ecumenical Institutions and 88 pastors and elders. We all agree that this event is against what the Church approved in the past General Assembly of not to hold events in Arizona.

While I do stand behind this letter, I also realize that the event leadership was placed in a difficult situation in light of the General Assembly decision. I also have no doubt that they were prayful and faithful in deciding to proceed with the event.  I simply do not agree.

Excerpts from the conference leadership’s statement:

After prayerful consideration of the action of the 219th General Assembly regarding hosting events in Arizona and the financial consequences of breaking hotel contracts at substantial expense, the Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference Planning Team has determined to continue with plans to hold the 2011 event in Phoenix, Ariz., at the Phoenix Airport Hilton from February 28 to March 2.

God often gives us choices for which there are not only no perfect answers, but for which there are serious consequences regardless of the decision. We believe this is one of those decisions. We recognize that some governing bodies and individuals will choose not to participate in 2011 in Arizona, and that other persons will choose to be present. We hope to continue the Kaleidoscope conferences beyond 2011 as there is response and need presented by Presbyterians to deepen our stewardship commitment to the work of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to Jesus Christ.

Again, I understand that issues such as these are nowhere near as clear or simple as we would like them to be and we, as a country and denomination will disagree vigourously over immigration.  At the same time complexity or fear of conflict should not deter us from speaking and acting in the way that we feel God is call to.

The full letter is below along with all of the names. [Download PDF].  Please share this with others and if you have any questions about the letter or wish to send a word of encouragement and/or solidarity, you should contact the Moderator, Rev. Dr. Mauricio Chacon.

CARTA RESOLUCIóN ARIZONA 

The Presbyterian News Service in its General Assembly report included the following item:  “After nearly two hours of debate on Thursday evening, the 219th General Assembly (2010) agreed to refrain from holding national meetings in states where travel by immigrant Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color might subject them to harassment due to legislation.”

Once again Presbyterians had the audacity and the foresight to stand against an unjust law, in this case the recently enacted immigration policy in Arizona (SB 1070). Because of this policy, entire communities in this state now live in fear of being separated from jobs, family and friends. The law actually legalizes racial profiling and the demise of basic civil rights for an entire ethnic group. The law even criminalizes people who attempt to bring aid to the newcomers. People of faith especially feel that their basic right to exercise their religious calling to embrace the stranger, feed the hungry and house the homeless is being threatened.

The PNS story continues:  “Former moderator of the General Assembly, Rick Ufford-Chase (2004) spoke in support of the measure, as did former moderator of the General Assembly John Fife (1992), who currently lives in Arizona. ‘Racism must be confronted with action,’ said Fife. Ufford-Chase cited PC(USA)’s ‘historic concern for those who stand on the fringe of our society.”

Even Stated Clerk the Rev. Gradye Parsons said that if Pennsylvania, the state site of the 220th General Assembly (2012), had a similar law, “…we would follow the directions of the Assembly.”

In spite of these bold declarations and the will of the highest body of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a Stewardship Event is scheduled for February 28 through March 3, 2011, in Phoenix Arizona.

The National Presbyterian Hispanic/Latino Caucus of the Presbyterian Church (USA) wishes to add its voice to those at the Assembly and decry the decision to hold this Presbyterian-sponsored event in Arizona. This action appears to be challenging not only the will of the Assembly, but also the historic, biblical and theological stance of Christians against human-enacted laws that discriminate against a particular group of people because of their ethnicity, culture, language, national origin or immigration status.

We believe the arguments presented by the planning committee do not justify holding the event. Good stewardship is not to avoid cancellation fees but to follow the biblical mandates to “…not mistreat an alien (immigrant) or oppress him…” (Exodus 22:21) as well as other Scripture texts supporting justice for immigrants and sojourners.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail to the white pastors who asked him to wait until later for justice for African-Americans, wrote “A just law is a man [sic] -made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.” Definitely the Arizona SB 1070 law does not square with God’s law.

Thus we cannot wait either. Now is the time for the Church to stand with those who are marginalized and oppressed once more. We ask you the leaders of this Stewardship Event, as your brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the same Presbyterian Church (USA) under whose leadership we serve the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to transfer the event from Phoenix to another location.

Expectantly, and with great hope for justice and solidarity,

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL HISPANIC PRESBYTERIAN CAUCUS (4)

  1. Rev. Mauricio Chacón, Moderator
  2. Rev. Jonier Orozco, Vice Moderator
  3. Rev. Rosa Blanca González, Secretary
  4. Elder Cecilia Casal, Treasurer

COORDINATOR COUNCIL (10)

  1. Rev. Carlos Rivera (Northeast)
  2. Rev. Harry del Valle Irizarry (Puerto Rico)
  3. Elder Noe López Benítez (Sun)
  4. Elder Ricardo Moreno (Southern California and Hawaii)
  5. Elder Martha E. López de García (Southwest)
  6. Rev. César Carhuachín (Mid-Atlantic)
  7. Rev. Francisco Peláez (Covenant)
  8. Rev. Sandra Luciano Andújar (South Atlantic)
  9. Elder Florence Vargas (Moderator Hispanas/Latinas Presbyterian Women)
  10. Rev. Renato Álvarez (Moderator Hispanic/Latinos Presbyterian Men)

OTHERS  Note: Titles on the names are for identification purposes and do not mean an action of that governing body.

Former General Assembly Moderators (4)

  1. Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly
  2. Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly – Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
  3. Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly – Moderator of the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus
  4. Rev. John M. Fife, Moderator of the 204th  General Assembly

Middle Governing Body Staff (25)

  1. Rev. Mike Cole, Executive Presbyter – New Covenant Presbytery
  2. Rev. Jose Luis Casal, General Missioner – Tres Rios Presbytery
  3. Rev. Dr. Ron Sutto, Acting General Presbyter – Presbytery of South Louisiana
  4. Elder James R. Bellatti, General Presbyter – Cimarron Presbytery
  5. Rev. Aaron Carland, General Presbyter – Indian Nations Presbytery
  6. Elder Hilary Shuford, General Presbyter – Mission Presbytery
  7. Rev. Joe Hill, General Presbyter & Camp Director – Presbytery of Pines
  8. Rev. Sam Roberson, General Presbyter/Stated Clerk – Presbytery of Charlotte
  9. Rev. Paige M. McRight, Executive Presbyter – Central Florida Presbytery
  10. Rev. Mary Newbern Williams, General Presbyter – John Calvin Presbytery
  11. Rev. Aleida Jernigan, Co-Executive Presbyter NE/NW Region – Cascade Presbytery
  12. Elder Tony de La Rosa, Interim Executive Presbyter – New York City Presbytery
  13. Rev. Wayne A. Yost, General Presbyter – Presbytery of Kiskiminetas
  14. Rev. James DiEgidio, General Presbyter – Presbytery of Cincinnati
  15. Rev. Donnie Woods, General Presbyter – Presbytery of Charleston Atlantic
  16. Rev. Dr. Peter Nord, Executive Presbyter – Presbytery of Baltimore
  17. Rev. Raafat Zaki, Transitional Synod Executive, Synod of the Covenant
  18. Rev. Lemuel Garcia, Associate Presbyter – Salem Presbytery
  19. Rev. Dr. Felipe N. Martinez, Associate Executive Presbyter – Whitewater Valley Presbytery
  20. Rev. Patty Lane (HR), Stated Clerk – Tres Rios Presbytery
  21. Rev. Amy Mendez, Church Development and Multiracial Ministries – Denver Presbytery
  22. Elder Ruben P. Armendariz, Associate Executive – Mission Presbytery
  23. Rev. Antonio (Tony) Aja, , Coordinator for Hispanic/Latino Ministries – Mid-Kentucky Presbytery
  24. Rev. Julio Ramírez-Eve, Associate for Hispanic Ministries – New Hope Presbytery
  25. Rev. Alfredo Miranda-Rodríguez, Coordinator for Hispanic Ministries – Salem Presbytery

General Assembly Staff (21)

  1. Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell, Director of World Mission – GAMC
  2. Elder Sara P. Lisherness, Director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry – GAMC
  3. Rev. Robina M. Winbush, Associate Stated Clerk and Director Department of Ecumenical and Agency Relations – OGA
  4. Elder Loyda Aja, Director of the Office of Stated Clerk – OGA
  5. Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Office of Public Witness in Washington DC – GAMC
  6. Rev. W. Mark Koenig, Director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations – GAMC
  7. Rev. Dr. Héctor Rodríguez, Associate Hispanic/Latino/na Congregational Support – GAMC
  8. Rev. Angel P. Suárez-Valera, Associate for New Immigrants Congregational Support – GAMC
  9. Rev. Marissa Galván-Valle Associate for Resources and Relations with Hispanic Constituency – GAMC
  10. Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Associate for Ecumenical Relations & Assistant Stated Clerk – OGA
  11. Rev. Dr. Christian Iosso, Coordinator, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) – GAMC
  12. Maria Arroyo, Area Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Mission – GAMC
  13. Rev. Sarah Henken, Regional Liaison, Andean Region, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  14. Rev. Mamie Broadhurst, PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker in Colombia, South America – GAMC
  15. Rev. Stacey Steck, PC(USA) Mission Worker in Costa Rica, Central America – GAMC
  16. Rev. Richard Williams, PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker in Colombia, South America – GAMC
  17. Rev. Dr. Teresa Chávez Sauceda, Antiracism Consultant for PC(USA)
  18. Courtney J. Hoekstra, Associate for Advocacy Committee Support – GAMC
  19. Elder Norma Sayago, Copy Editor/Translator for Hispanic Resources – Congregational Ministries Publishing – GAMC
  20. Rev. Raafat Girgis, Associate for Multicultural Congregational Support – Racial/Ethnic & Women Ministry – GAMC
  21. Rev. Molly Casteel, Assistant Stated Clerk and Manager, Representation and Inclusiveness Services – OGA

Theological, Educational & Ecumenical Organizations (11)

  1. Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes – Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  2. Rev. Dr. José R. Irizarry, Academic Dean, Ecumenical Seminary of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, PR
  3. Dr. Alan A. Aja, Ph.D, Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies, Brooklyn College-City University of New York. Advisory Member of Task Force on Public Education, PC(USA) 2009-2010
  4. Rev. Victor Aloyo, Jr. Director of Multicultural Relations, Princeton Theological Seminary
  5. Rev. Dr. Gloria H. Albrecht, Co-chair, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) – GAMC – Associate Professor of Religion and Ethics at the University of Detroit Mercy.
  6. Dr. Jane Atkins-Vasquez, Adjunct professor of Christian History at San Francisco Theological Seminary/Southern California in Pasadena, California
  7. Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Director of the Leading Generations Initiative of the Fund for Theological Education.
  8. Rev. Michael E. Livingston, Director of Poverty Initiative of the National Council of Churches of Christ (USA) – Former President of NCCC(USA) – Member of New Brunswick Presbytery.
  9. Elder Flavia Alvarez, Recording Secretary, Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Latin America, Iglesia Juan Calvino de Quebradillas, PR
  10. Dr. Elizabeth Cook – PC(USA) Mission Worker in Costa Rica, Central America – GAMC and Professor of New Testament of the Latin American Biblical University in San Jose, Costa Rica
  11. Rev. Dr. Alice Winters, PC(USA) Mission Worker in Colombia, South America – GAMC and Professor of Old Testament of the Reformed University in Barranquilla, Colombia

Pastors and Elders (89)

  1. Rev. Karen Hernández-Granzen, Co-Moderator or Urban Mission Cabinet, New Brunswick Presbytery
  2. Elder Nelda Silva, Mission Presbytery
  3. Rev. Neddy H. Astudillo, Presbytery of Milwaukee
  4. Rev. Edmundo Vasquez, Retired Mission Worker
  5. Rev. Jesus J. Gonzalez, NCD Evangelist, Presbytery of Arkansas
  6. Rev. Carmen M. Rosario, Pastor – Fort Washington Heights Presbyterian Church, NY
  7. Rev. Magdalena I. García, Pastor Ravenswood Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL
  8. Rev. Alfredo Delgado, Downey CA
  9. Elder Esther S. Aguilar
  10. Rev. Dr. Carmelo Mercado, Pastor, El Redentor Presbyterian Church, Oviedo Fl.
  11. Rev. Dr. Luis R. Quiñones, Organizing Pastor, Nación Santa Presbyterian Church, Kissimmee, Fl.
  12. Elder Belinda Rice, Co-Chair Advocacy Committee for Women Concerns (ACWC) – GAMC
  13. Rev. David Aja-Sigmon, Pastor of 4th Avenue Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, NY
  14. Rev. Roberto Colón, Iglesia de la Comunidad Presbyterian Church
  15. Elder Héctor M. Rivas, San Juan Presbytery, PR
  16. Elder Olga L. Vidal, Country Club Presbyterian Church, PR
  17. Elder Marta I. Rivas, San Juan Presbytery, PR
  18. Elder Idalia L. Rivas, Bayamón Presbyterian Church, PR
  19. Elder Edgardo Beauchamp, Bayamón Presbyterian Church. PR
  20. Deacon Amarilis Rivas, Country Club Presbyterian Church, PR
  21. Rev. Daniel Jimenez, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Santa Ana, CA
  22. Rev. Ramiro Ros, Pastor, Mision Beth-El, Wimauma, Fl.
  23. Rev. Daniel Beteta, San Mateo, CA
  24. Rev. Wayne R. Hawkins, Pastor Organizador de la Iglesia del Pueblo en Las Cruces, NM.
  25. Prof. Marirosa Nazario, Iglesia Presbiteriana en Hato Rey, PR
  26. Rev. Dr. Milton Núñez-Coba, Pastor of Nueva Esperanza Presbyterian Church, NJ
  27. Rev. Dr. Teddy Chuquimia, Presbytery of Pueblo, Pueblo Colorado
  28. Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, Pastor, Presbyterian Methodist United Church, West New York, NJ
  29. Elder Maria Luisa Garcia Toirac, Presbyterian Methodist United Church, West New York, NJ
  30. Elder Estuardo Salguero, Presbyterian Methodist United Church, West New York, NJ
  31. Elder Mario Ramirez, Presbyterian Methodist United Church, West New York, NJ
  32. Rev. Arnaldo E. Granados, Bilingual Chaplain, Westminster Communities of Florida, Orlando, FL
  33. Rev. Lilia Ramirez, Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana, Paterson, NJ
  34. Elder Yolanda Hernández, Miami, Fl
  35. Elder Manuel Hernández, Miami, Fl
  36. Elder William Reyes
  37. Elder Linda Martinez, CLP Pastor Divine Savior Presbyterian Church, El Paso, TX
  38. Deacon Rina M. Arauz, Calvin Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY
  39. Elder Patricia Hew Lee, Member of Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) GAMC – Former Moderator of National Asian Presbyterian Caucus and Synod of Sun
  40. Rev. Catherine Hughes, HR, Coordinator Visitation Ministries, Immanuel Presbyterian Church
  41. Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Consulting Pastor, Presbytery of the Pacific
  42. Rev. Maria Felix, Chaplain, New York Methodist Hospital – New York City Presbytery
  43. Rev. Ross Kinsler, (HR) Presbytery San Gabriel
  44. Elder Gloria Kinsler,
  45. Elder Mason Funk, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, CA
  46. Rev. Pablo Morataya, Pastor, Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana, Oakland, CA
  47. Elder Noushin Framke, Newark Presbytery Member of Member of Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) and the Committee on Mission Responsibility Trough Investment (MRTI) – GAMC
  48. Elder Lelis M. Armella, Miami, Fl.
  49. Rev. Tim Phillips, Director Multi-Cultural Café, Presbytery of New Covenant)
  50. Elder, Nancy Diaz, San Pablo & Trinity Presbyterian Church, New Covenant
  51. Elder Raquel Yslas, Moderator Hispanic Strategy Committee – Denver Presbytery
  52. Rev. Edwin Andrade, Co-Pastor Iglesia Presbiteriana Riverside, Sterling, VA
  53. Rev. Joe Mares, Pastor First Presbyterian Church Aurora, CO
  54. Rev. Dr. Laurey H. Murphy, Pastor – Spring Branch Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of New Covenant
  55. Elder Aida Faris, Member of Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) – GAMC
  56. Rev. Guillermo Yela, Organizing Pastor, Camino de Vida, Presbytery of Santa Fe
  57. Rev. Mark Downs; Pastor, Heights Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX
  58. Rev. Shannan R. Vance-Ocampo, Pastor, Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church, Director of Colombia Programs, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
  59. Rev. Dr. David Cortés-Fuentes, Member of San Gabriel Presbytery
  60. Rev. Benjamín Gutiérrez HR, Grace Presbytery
  61. Elder Tina Gutiérrez, Fort Worth, TX
  62. Rev. Margaret E. Howland, Pastor Emeritus, South Presbyterian Church of Yonkers, NY
  63. Elder Annie King
  64. Elder Donna Blackstock
  65. Elder Jorge Barbarán, CLP Organizing Pastor Iglesia Presbiteriana de Valverde, Denver, CO
  66. Rev. Linda Eastwood, Director of Accompaniment Program with Colombia, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
  67. Rev. Carlos Clugy-Soto, Pastor, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, El Paso, TX
  68. Rev. Roger Scott Powers, Pastor, Light Street Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
  69. Elder Angel Cardona, El Redentor Presbyterian Church, Oviedo, Fl.
  70. Rev. Paul A. Collier, Pastor First Presbyterian Church, Mason City, Iowa
  71. Rev. Osmundo Ponce, Retired Mission Worker
  72. Rev. Mieke Vandershall, Director of Presbyterian Welcome
  73. Seminarian Edwin R. Estevez Jr. Candidate under care of Elizabeth Presbytery
  74. Rev. Leonel R. Pech, Amistad Cristiana Center, Fort Wayne, IN
  75. Rev. Margarita R. Reyes, Pastora- Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana de Rosemead, CA & Moderadora de la Asociación Presbiteriana Hispana/Latina del Sínodo del Sur de California & Hawaii
  76. Rev. Dr. Leonardo M. Mármol (HR), San Gabriel Presbytery
  77. Elder Elmer Zavala, CLP – Temporary Pulpit Supply Pastor for Hispanic Ministry, Nashville TN
  78. Elder Stephen Barlett,
  79. Elder Esperanza Guajardo, Member of the General Assembly Mission Council – GAMC
  80. Marco A. Mármol, Member Grace Presbyterian Church, Midland, TX
  81. Ruth M. Mármol, Member Grace Presbyterian Church, Midland, TX
  82. Elder Elder Jean Vieten, Presbytery of Riverside, CA
  83. Gladys Chacón, Member of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX
  84. Rev. Wesley Porto, Senior Pastor – New Hope Presbyterian Church, Orlando, Fl.
  85. Rev. Arthur Pessoa dos Santos, Director of Ministries – New Hope Presbyterian Church, Orlando, Fl.
  86. Valeria Maria B. Motta dos Santos, Missionary of New Hope Presbyterian Church, Orlando, Fl.
  87. Rev. Pedro Sayago, Pastor – Beechmont Presbyterian Church, Louisville KY
  88. Elder Patricia Petty Morse, Northminster Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C, – Member of the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) – GAMC.
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