Village Church – Beaverton, Oregon: A Church That Gets It

This last weekend I was in Beaverton, Oregon, speaking at the Village Church. It is amazing church, with a strong emphasis on multi-ethnicity. And this commitment to multi-ethnicity is not just about ministering to others out there.  Various non-Anglo groups meet during the week at the church: Chinese, Korean, East Indian, and Hispanic.

The church works at having these various groups interact. What is even more amazing is that the church staff is also multi-ethnic! The Village Church has placed those from diverse backgrounds into positions of leadership. For about the last fifteen years it also has been using an immigration lawyer to orient their immigrant members and to help them with their legal paperwork if possible. The Village Church is working hard to live out at community and institutional levels the implications of the international flavor and many colors and languages of the Body of Christ. They are reflecting what they claim as their mission statement.

During the services on Saturday night and Sunday morning, Korean staff did the Scripture reading in Korean; the songs on the screen were both in Korean and English; the choir on Sunday had many Koreans and the accompanist was a Korean. The young man who leads a more casual service in the chapel is from an Indian background. In the afternoon there is an Hispanic church that meets in that chapel. For my speaking on immigration, all the groups gathered in the main sanctuary, and simultaneous translation was provided for those who need it.

A remarkable church. Of course, the Village Church is not be a perfect church; none is. I am sure there all kinds of challenges that it faces on a daily basis, as all churches do. But, they are doing some exemplary things in regards to immigrants and to immigration. There is much they can teach us.

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Where do we go from here? – Is there any hope for comprehensive immigration reform?

For those who have been involved in efforts to encourage comprehensive immigration reform – whether within social, political, or religious networks – these last few months have been frustrating, if not discouraging.

Once again, Congress is at a stalemate. The Republicans continue with the desire to neutralize President Obama’s executive action of late November of last year or to eliminate provisions one-by-one. A U.S. district judge in Texas has placed a preliminary injunction on the implementation of that presidential order. The injunction was a response to a lawsuit brought by 26 states that is designed to overturn it as unconstitutional.  The Justice Department has filed a motion with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to overturn the injunction. The hearing is set for April 17th. Clearly, this is all messy business, and whatever unfolds will generate yet more anger and ill will. Continue reading

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Challenges Ahead for Immigration – Here and Around the Globe

The many issues concerning migration are global. It is natural to think that immigration presents challenges to this country, but reports from around the world underscore that the human crises generated by the movement of millions of people from their land of origin is affecting many countries.

It is not surprising that the social, economic, cultural, and security pressures that have arisen because of this migration have caused all kinds of reactions in the nations that receive these outsiders, many of them negative. Here are several links that speak to the multiple crises here and elsewhere. Continue reading

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Sorting Out the Facts Behind Obama’s Executive Action

On November 20th President Obama appeared on national television to announce his executive action on immigration. The timing perhaps was for political reasons. Some believe that this did not come before the mid-term elections, as he did not want to potentially hurt Democrats who were running in difficult races. In January the 114th Congress will convene with a significant different profile. The Republicans expanded their majority in the House of Representatives and took control of Senate. By announcing the executive order before the new congress opens, he assured action would be taken, since it is possible that immigration would have been significantly stalled in a Republican Congress. This move also forces the Republicans’ hand: if they do nothing, some constructive moves are in place; if they try to thwart the implementation of the executive action, the Republicans could pay a heavy political price among Hispanic voters, the fastest growing demographic (in general and political terms) in the country. Continue reading

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After the Mid-Term Elections: Now what for immigration?

In the lead-up months to the mid-term elections of November 4th things got very quiet on the topic of immigration. Politicians of both political parties ignored the issue, probably trying to avoid any missteps or misunderstandings that might cost a candidate votes. The President, who had promised months ago to do something on behalf of the millions of undocumented immigrants, decided to postpone any action until after the elections. Once more, immigrants and those working for reform felt that the issue of immigration and immigrants were just a political pawn in the electoral politics of both parties and that they had been duped again by the Democrats. Continue reading

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National Hispanic Heritage Month: Eleven Important and Interesting Facts

The Pew Research Center is a very well respected, nonpartisan research institute and think-tank that studies trends of all kinds – social, economic, political, religious, and educational – related to the Hispanic community in the United States. This last week they released a list of eleven facts about the “state” of Hispanics in this country. The information is fascinating and provides a good snapshot of how things stand right now. Click on this link:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/16/11-facts-for-national-hispanic-heritage-month/

There is no cost for receiving these periodic research studies. I would encourage you to do so.

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Immigrants as Political Pawns…Again

Congress has not acted on immigration reform over these last few years. Partisan politics have overridden principled decision making and the formulation of a comprehensive overhaul of an immigration system that is outdated, overly complex, and inadequate to deal with the realities of the twenty-first century. For several years evangelicals have been working to focus on foundational principles that ultimately are grounded in biblical values and that are commonsensical to the broader public. This set of basic commitments is reflected in the statements and media work of the Evangelical Immigration Table. These efforts have not gone unnoticed; their impact was noted in a recent article. Continue reading

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