Don’t know that I have a lot of commentary to add to these news items. They are, as the post title implies, just pretty neat, pretty cool.
First, the pretty neat, via the Mennonite World Review:
The teach-in was supposed to happen at a local library. But when President Trump entered office with executive actions that heightened fears among the immigrant community, a larger venue was needed.
Columbus (Ohio) Mennonite Church shoehorned nearly 400 people into its sanctuary Jan. 31 as the expansion site for a teaching session on immigrant sanctuary by the Central Ohio Worker Center.
Michael Prescott and Sarah Aeschliman, who attend West End Mennonite Fellowship in Lancaster, Pa., join thousands of people demonstrating in support of refugees Jan. 31 at Penn Square in Lancaster. — Dale D. Gehman for MWR
It was just one way Mennonite churches have responded to Trump’s travel bans and statements, which critics view as dehumanizing and provocative…
“The congregation was involved in the sanctuary movement in the 1980s, so we have some history with it,” said Pastor Joel Miller. “There’s an Iraqi refugee family we have adopted through World Relief, so there’s a group of people in the congregation who relate with them regularly.”
Others at Columbus Mennonite work to build relationships with the city’s Somali population, the second-largest in the U.S.
Though the congregation is not an official sanctuary site that would be prepared to house families and individuals in danger of deportation, Miller said he is part of a group of pastors discussing what such a commitment could mean. And he isn’t alone.
Indeed he isn’t. I keep hearing reports of churches joining the sanctuary movement, or becoming an immigrant welcoming community, or simply studying the immigration issue. That’s on top of the wave of support for refugees that began in 2015 and continues—I just now received an email from a congregation looking forward to welcoming a Syrian family who’d been stuck in Egypt by the president’s Muslim ban!
As Rev. Miller alludes to, there’s history here. Many churches—with Mennonites in the forefront—were involved in refugee resettlement in the 1970’s and 80’s, and the sanctuary movement in that latter decade. It seems highly unlikely that Steve Bannon knew what he was messing with when he put that Executive Order under the president’s nose. By now, welcoming immigrants is deeply ingrained in both liberal and conservative Christian churches. They’re not about to put up with cruelty toward them. You might as well try banning food pantries in the U.S.
Now, pretty cool, from the Wisconsin Council of Churches:
The Community Investment Program (CIP) offers an investment opportunity for individuals and congregations of member denominations, as well as denominational bodies, to have funds working for a brighter future for Wisconsin’s low income families and communities.
The Council offers a unique opportunity to local church members, congregations and its member denominations to place dollars in CIP Fund. The Fund then invests in selected community development financial institutions (CDFI’s) throughout Wisconsin. The CDFI’s help distressed communities, low and moderate income people and minority populations to develop housing, employment and business opportunities. A listing of where funds are placed is in the brochure along with their websites which show more about all the work they do.
If you’re a liberal looking for a way to disobey the directives of greed, suspicion and hatred of the poor, and you have a little money to spread around, you could do worse than to invest in a program like this. I mean, what kind of return are you going to get on that 12-month CD, anyway? There are lots of programs like this across the country, run by banks, credit unions, and charitable groups. Again, if you want to do some good, here’s a concrete way to do it.+ + +