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February 26, 2015

Excitement and Encouragement at Immigrant Welcoming Event #progress

newsOver 70 people from 25 congregations across the California-Pacific Conference gathered at Claremont United Methodist Church for the Welcoming Immigrant Congregations Network event on Saturday, February 21, 2015.

The event was another example of how the California-Pacific Conference is inspiring the world as passionate followers of Jesus Christ so all may experience God’s life-giving love.

The rallying cry of the Justice and Compassion Essential Ministries Team-led event was the desire to welcome and provide helpful support, through our churches, to thousands of children who are fleeing violence and impoverishment in Central America and arriving in our midst. It was with this mission in mind that the JCEMT introduced the “You Are Not Alone” Program for Migrant Children.

The goal of this program is to reach out to these children and their families through United Methodist churches located near them and to equip these churches to be places of welcome and healing for them through partnerships with community organizations.

Workshops were held on how to become a Welcome Center, organizing Healing Retreats for the children and their families, and on the broader issues of Detention/Deportation, the Struggle for Just Immigration Policies, and the end to the break up of families.

Special guests at the event included Kristin Kumpf & Emma Escobar from the General Board of Church & Society, Steve Reyes from the California Community Foundation, Stephanie Zacarias from the Central American Resource Center, John Durrall from Amanecer Counseling Services and Guillermo Torres of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice.

The next steps for the initiative are establishing a Welcome Center in each of the four mainland districts, to begin legal counseling and family services in those sites, and to get the word out about our Retreat for Migrant Children at Camp Colby June 27 – July 3, 2015.

The selection of the Organizer/Coordinator of the “You Are Not Alone” Program, Blanca Alcantara Hershey was also announced.

For more information and to support the initiative, contact Blanca Alcantara Hershey (balcantara_hershey@calpacumc.org)

Photos by Dave Johnson, Companion Staff