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Immigration Lab: Church Between Borders

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Pine Street Church

1237 Pine Street

Boulder, CO 80302

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Immigration Lab: Church Between Borders

Schedule:
Friday, April 5, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Saturday, April 6, 9:30am - 12:30pm

This is an interactive, participatory workshop on immigration from the spiritual tradition of the Christian faith. From families being separated at the border, to the “migrant” caravan, and refugee admissions at historic lows, immigration is not something any of us can ignore. This workshop presents a fresh way to talk about immigration, build community, and learn how to extend justice and mercy to our neighbors.

The word immigrant, ger, appears 92 times in the Old Testament and Scripture (Old and New Testaments) repeatedly reminds us of the blessing of the stranger and loving our neighbor, but most Christians report they never talk about immigration in their church. Together we can explore why immigrants are so close to the heart of God and change the conversation #immigrantsareablessingnotaburden.

Opinions tend to run high about the issue of immigration, but often our shared set of facts runs low. If we’re going to think faithfully about immigration, it’s important that we share an understanding of how immigration works today and what the Bible has to say about how we think about immigrants.

This workshop will engage the full self, integrating mind, body and spirit. Because immigration is a complex and difficult subject that can conjure up strong emotions, Nii Armah Sowah will lead us in collective songs and expressive movement helping make us emotionally and spiritually available to engage in learning and conversation together from a grounded, God-centered space.

Workshop Facilitators:

Marissa Aguilera Saints

Marissa is the Denver Regional Immigration Organizer with the CRC Office of Social Justice. In this role, she engages local congregations and pastors in immigration education and advocacy. Marissa also serves as an Elder at All Souls Church of Boulder and as the Alumni co-Chair for the Chinook Fund, a foundation focused on grassroots social justice work in Colorado. Prior to this, Marissa worked internationally. She founded and directed Dsenyo a fair trade company that partnered with women and artisans in Malawi, Zambia and Brazil. As part of Dsenyo, she worked with refugees primarily from Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo (DRC) at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi. Marissa grew up in Boulder, is an artist and mother of two young boys. She is the daughter of a Cuban immigrant and granddaughter of a Jewish man who fled his homeland (Czechoslovakia) during the Holocaust.

Nii Armah Sowah

Nii Armah is a Ghanaian-born Arts Educator, Boulder resident of 20+ years, Community Leader, and Professor of African Dance and Culture at CU Boulder. He is the Founder of the 1000 Voices Project, a community arts organization, which operates on the conviction that whenever we raise our voices collectively, change is inevitable. Nii Armah uses songs, rhythm games, storytelling and dance to facilitate community building, cultivate cross-cultural understanding and encourage personal growth and healing. Drawing from his diverse background, Nii Armah blends his African heritage and understanding of Western culture to provide powerful and unique experiences for participants. His work is based on several years of training as an Expressive Arts Therapist, community builder, and teacher as well as his studies and experiences across the African continent.

Nii Armah's workshops and classes are grounded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu, meaning, "I am, because we are." His pedagogy is steeped in African values like interdependence, mutual reciprocity and the like. The communal setting of his workshops become a laboratory for self-discovery, community building and cross-cultural understanding, recognizing that we don't journey alone, but together.

Workshop Overview

Session 1: Immigration Simulation - Stepping into the Shoes of an Immigrant

Part of thinking faithfully about immigration, means that we share an understanding of how immigration works today -- and maybe dispel some myths or misunderstandings that we didn’t even know we had. In this session we will discover together how a person can legally immigrate today. We often hear the question: “Why don’t undocumented immigrants just get in line?” Together we will learn what the lines are, who can get in them (and who can’t), and how long it can take to get through those lines.

Session 2: Immigration Storyline - How Did We Get Here?

One thing that is important for moving forward together is having a common memory about the past. In the United States, as a result of the diversity we enjoy, it can be a challenge to cultivate a common memory about immigration. The purpose of this session is to work toward a shared understanding of immigration history and the values that have shaped our evolving laws. We’ll take into account memories that different groups may have, and together we’ll form a more holistic understanding. We often hear the statement: “My grandparents came legally, why can't others do the same?” This session will help explore the evolution of immigration policy throughout U.S. history, and reveal how it has prioritized some immigration seekers over others for hundreds of years.

Session 3: How Do We Think about Immigration as Christians? How Can We Advocate for Change?

As we listen to the rhetoric and read today’s headlines about immigration, we can see how our culture defines a person’s worth based on economics (are they a plus or a minus?) or safety (are they a threat or a benefit?) -- but that is not how Scripture defines the worth of human beings. In this session we’ll consider how Scripture can inform our thinking and our conversation about the issue of immigration. We’ll also consider how we are called to respond -- using our time, talents, treasure, and the power that we have been given as citizens of a democracy. We’ll discuss how our voices and actions can bring about policies that are rooted in faithful thinking and aligned with Scripture’s call on our lives and our leaders.

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Pine Street Church

1237 Pine Street

Boulder, CO 80302

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Refunds up to 1 day before event

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