2018 Domestic U.S. Workshops

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Ethics of Reciprocity: Giving LGBTQIA Asylees Extravagant Welcome

We’ll explore what led LGBTQIA asylees in the U.S. to become people banished from their homelands. Our time will also be spent listening to asylees’ stories and those dedicated to helping them. We’ll also welcome those who gather with us to share stories and connect with each other.

Rev. Jason Carson Wilson, United Church of Christ, Justice & Witness Ministries
Eric Scharf & Matt Corso of Center Global
Raquel Evita Saraswati, an activist and journalist

Strategies for Solidarity with Refugees and Muslims in 2018

The last year and half has been a particularly difficult period: we have seen increases in anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric, policies including the refugee and Muslim bans, and we have witnessed the administration steadily dismantling the refugee resettlement program. All of these events have created a need greater than ever before for people of faith to lift up their voices and act in solidarity with impacted individuals. During this session, we will strategize, both together and broken into state groups, about how to effectively push back against the bans and other discriminatory policies. We will cover how to organize and advocate on state and local levels, and look ahead towards key dates such as World Refugee Day. Lastly, we will discuss how to ensure that during the 2018 election cycle, we are making our voices heard and standing in solidarity alongside our Muslim and refugee neighbors. Participants will take information they learn and turn it into a plan of action for their state.

Mustafa Nuur, Former Refugee from Somalia
Yasmine Taeb, Senior Policy Counsel, The Center for Victims of Torture
Catherine Orsborn, Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

The Refugees Right Next Door

We think of refugees as those people “over there,” in foreign countries far away But we are, all of us, surrounded by people who aren’t that different from the refugees fleeing persecution in other countries. Our “local” refugees are made visible through our prisons, where many of them land. Prison becomes an unexpected refuge for many who couldn’t otherwise escape the abuse and addiction that have plagued every chapter of their lives. When they return to the community from their time behind bars, they face a resettlement process with obstacles WE have imposed, as a culture: heavy fines and pay-for-stay debts, limits on housing and job opportunities, the revocation of their right to vote, and more. More of these persons than you’d expect have lost everything–all of their possessions, their relationships, every sense of self.

This workshop will consider what it would mean to think about these persons as refugees in our midst. We’ll use stories and discoveries from my ministry–Women at the Well–which is a church inside the women’s prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, and our reentry program that works with dozens of women every year who are making their journey “home.”

Rev. Lee Schott, Pastor, Women at the Well United Methodist Church
Ex-offender(s) from Women at the Well United Methodist Church

Immigration and Alternatives to Detention

Currently there are over 40,000 immigrants detained in detention centers around the country. The cost to taxpayers is over $2 billion per year. There are effective community based alternatives to detention with lower costs to the government and high rates of compliance with immigration proceedings. This workshop will deal with the reality of detention and the more humane reality of alternatives to detention in its many forms.

Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM, Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, Chicago, Illinois
Jennifer Long, Executive Director, Casa Marianella, Austin, Texas
Liz Sweet, Esq., General Counsel and Chief Human Resources Officer, HIAS, Silver Spring, Maryland

The following three sessions will have impacted persons and speakers in the field who are engaging our elected officials on the local, state and national level. The panel will interact through question and answer and small group brainstorming to think through best practices.

  • Changing the Narrative – “From Newspeak to Consciousness” Reclaiming and Reframing Faith and Justice Terms – This session will examine the way the right has corrupted religious and social justice terms and how the faith community can and must reclaim and reframe those terms to create lasting justice.
  • Criminalization (Black/Brown Bodies) – Mass Incarceration; Intersectionality – “Connecting Communities” – This session will examine the ways siloed issues have weakened the social justice movement and how the realization of interwoven relationships can help us understand and respond to the human condition.
  • Understanding Prophetic Witness, Direct Action and Civil Disobedience – This session will examine ways to build Spiritual leaders who will help amplify and provide a moral framing to support the work of safety and liberation of the oppressed in society.

An Exodus of the Poor: New Global Debt Crises and Corruption Drive the Displacement of Vulnerable Communities

New debt crises and the loss of social protections in developing economies is driving migration from Puerto Rico to Ghana. Developing economies dealing with financial crisis are ill-equipped to address the impact of natural disasters or stem the loss of billions from corruption and tax evasion. In this workshop we learn about these issues and will discuss solutions. We will brainstorm different methods of engagement and education to faith-based communities and the media.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network
Reverend Heriberto Martinez, General Secretary, Puerto Rico Bible‎ Society
Reverend Aniedi Okure, OP, Executive Director, Africa Faith and Justice Network
Kate Zeller, Campaigns Director, Jubilee USA Network

Gender Based Violence Against Women: Fear in the Fields

More than 600,000 women help grow the food we eat every day. Consistently subjected to discrimination, wage theft, unsafe work conditions, and sexual violence, farmworker women are especially vulnerable to workplace abuses due to frequent lack of legal status, language barriers, and lack of awareness about laws that could and should protect them. Hear from an impacted farmworker woman and key leaders in faith movements to improve farmworker justice, and engage directly in farmworker led campaigns and actions pushing back against gender abuse in the fields. Speakers: Julie Taylor, National Farm Worker Ministry; Patricia Cipollitti, Alliance for Fair Food; and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Julie Taylor, Executive Director of the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM)
Patricia Cipollitti, National Co-coordinator and Faith Organizer for the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF)
Representative from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

From Sanctuary to Solidarity: The many ways congregations can create welcoming communities

Across the country congregations have boldly promised to welcome all members of their communities. This has included offering sanctuary in their places of worship, being a welcoming congregation, advocating for just and humane policies that protect everyone and accompanying people as they face challenges or integrate into new communities.

This workshop will include ample space for people to share their own experiences organizing around these issues and also offer skills that people can apply back home.

Omar Angel Perez, PICO National Network
Kathryn Johnson, American Friends Service Committee
Pastor Ron Werner, Jr, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Henry Zorn, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Cincinnati, Ohio

From Charleston to Charlottesville to Sh**thole Countries: How Faith Communities are Responding to a White Supremacist Remix

The nation was shocked and outraged by Heather Heyer’s murder and the images of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Va. last summer. Equally as shocking were comments denigrating people from Haiti and African nations as coming from sh**hole countries whose immigrants were not wanted in America. How have faith communities responded to a resurgence in white supremacist attitudes and policy agendas? What more should be done for to fight for racial justice and equity in our nation? Will efforts like the National Council of Churches’ Truth and Racial Justice Initiative make a difference? What more should faith communities do to counter this resurgence?

This workshop will explore the resurgence of white supremacy in our nation – from the murders of the Charleston Nine to Charlottesville to the dangerous rhetoric that degrades people and nations based on the color of their skin.

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations