Outreach in Action:
Upcoming, Ongoing and Recent Activities
Adult Forums – check back for Outreach & Justice Forums in the new year.
Immigrant Welcoming Congregation January Sessions
Offering sanctuary to immigrants and their families: expanding our mission
During the summer and fall, the Immigrant Welcoming Congregation (IWC) team continued to meet with members at St. Michael’s to exchange immigration stories and discuss the process of becoming an immigrant welcoming congregation. During these conversations, we heard remarkable stories of perseverance and courage in overcoming hardship and barriers and of hopes for a better future in this country. A question raised in one conversation, however, truly captured our attention: Could a member of the Misa facing deportation before all legal avenues for remaining in this country had been pursued come to St. Michael’s for sanctuary? We asked ourselves if being a sanctuary congregation is the next step in our journey together at St. Michael’s because of our long history of radical hospitality and welcoming the stranger, including offering a Spanish misa for nearly 20 years. We would very much like you to join us in exploring this idea for expanding St. Michael’s mission.
To provide a context for the discussion, the IWC team will host the following four sessions in January, 2013, on Sunday afternoons from 4:00-6:00 pm.
January 6, Session 1—Stories from the Misa: discerning a need for sanctuary. We will hear the immigration stories of several Misa members and how knowing that sanctuary was available at St. Michael’s would affect their lives.
January 13, Session 2—Immigrant justice and sanctuary: a moral argument. Rev. Gabe Lamazares will lead us in a discussion of the moral underpinnings for offering sanctuary as a faith community.
January 20, Session 3—Providing sanctuary to an immigrant family: the experience of one congregation. Joanie McClellan will share her UCC church’s moving experience of providing sanctuary to an immigrant family in Simi, CA.
January 27, Session 4—Becoming a sanctuary congregation: what would it mean at St. Michael’s. Participants will have an opportunity to review and discuss a draft proposal for becoming a sanctuary congregation, including provisions for “hosting” an individual or family seeking sanctuary at St. Michaels. To facilitate the discussion, a panel that includes members of the IWC team, an immigration lawyer, Beth Poteet (Executive Director, Oregon New Sanctuary Movement), and Joanie McClellan will reflect on and address participants’ questions.
If you want to learn more about the issues and what would be involved in being a sanctuary congregation, please join us for these sessions! This is an opportunity for us to listen to each other and for your voice to be heard. The IWC team will use input from these sessions to shape a final proposal for presentation at an Adult Forum in late February, allowing time for prayer and reflection as we move forward.
For more information, check these links:
“The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform” House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, Sept. 2010. http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/documents/HOB_theological_resource_on_immigration.pdf
2012 General Convention Resolutions: http://www.generalconvention.org/gc/resolutions?by=committee&id=8
Note the following:
C120 Comprehensive Immigration Reform
D011 Reform Unequal Immigration Law
D059 Halt Unjust Immigration Enforcement
D067 Dream Act
Oregon New Sanctuary Movement: http://www.oregonsanctuary.org/
Causa website: http://causaoregon.org/
El Porvenir: A Unique Service Opportunity
Are you looking for an opportunity to serve others in another country and culture? If so, consider joining the El Porvenir work brigade from St. Michael’s that will be going to Nicaragua next July. This 10-day trip (July 13-22) is perfect for youth, families and adults who have time available in the summer.
You will find your life changed as you work side-by-side with villagers in a poor, rural Nicaraguan community on a clean-water project and visit places of interest in the country. Most often, we help build laundry and washing stations—hands-on projects that require no previous building experience but just a willingness to work closely with the men, women and children of the village who are excited to have our group join them. Nicaraguan trip leaders are bilingual so Spanish isn’t required, but it’s a great opportunity to practice your Spanish. The trip cost is $1,025 plus airfare; a $100 deposit is due to El Porvenir by December 1, 2012, to reserve a space.
Four people have signed up already, and there are eight spaces still open. If you would like to reserve a spot, have questions about the trip or scholarships, and/or would like to talk with a St. Michael’s member or family who have gone previously, please contact Bev Hoeffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503/238-0534.
Porchlight/Streetlight Ministry Update
We would like to offer a big welcome and thank-you to Meg Ruby and August Lindgren-Ruby for agreeing to coordinate the Porchlight/Streetlight Ministry at St. Michael’s and enabling us to continue to bring meals to the street youth who go there for food and assistance. And a very big thanks as well to Joy Young, who led this ministry for many years.
On the third Sunday of each month, St. Michael’s volunteers gather nutritious meals to be delivered to homeless youth staying in shelters run by Janus Youth Services—the Porchlight and Streetlight Shelters. The Streetlight Shelter provides short-term housing for 30 homeless youth, ages 13 to 20, who work with a case manager to exit street life. The Porchlight Shelter provides emergency housing for youth who are new to the streets or in immediate need of shelter and aid. This shelter serves over 500 youth every year by providing a safe place to sleep, nourishing meals, and hygiene facilities. How can you help? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
1) Sign up for the Porchlight Meal Ministry. You will receive a gentle e-reminder or call from Meg Ruby or August Lindgren-Ruby five days before the meals are gathered. This will happen at 11:00 am on the third Sunday of each month. Contribute when you can, and together we can make a big difference.
2) Make or buy healthful meals such as lasagna, ravioli or spaghetti, fried or baked chicken (18 pieces), meatloaf, sloppy joes, nachos or tacos, hearty soups, casseroles, fresh or ready-to-serve vegetables. Note: 11 x 13 recyclable or disposable trays/containers work best.
3) Place your ‘Porchlight’-labeled donation on the kitchen counter or in the fridge at St. Michael’s.
The food we donate is not usually consumed immediately but is stored in the Porchlight pantry and freezer. Porchlight does not have any funding for food and relies solely on generous donations such as ours. Their larder is not extensive. Visit the Janus Youth Programs at www.janusyouth.org, or contact Meg or August at email@example.com.
The Alternative Gift Catalog for 2012
With the Millennium Development Goals in mind, over the past few years the Outreach and Justice Ministry has put together the Alternative Gift Catalog in time for Christmas giving. We hope to encourage all of us to be thoughtful in our giving and to put our money where it can do the most good. The 2012 catalogs feature ten of your favorite charities. You can donate to any one or more in a loved one’s name with just a single check to St. Michael’s. Look for the O & J folks in the Gallery every Sunday in Advent.
This new group has formed out of the enthusiasm generated by the recent Bread for the World letter-writing campaign. Advocacy Action meets on the third Monday of each month from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the Raphael Room.
The purpose of the group is to get together once a month and discuss issues in need of advocacy, and to support each other in our advocacy efforts. These efforts would include calling or emailing public officials, writing letters or postcards, or even visiting our elected representatives. Members of the group would be free to pursue their own issues and interests. The meetings would provide an informal space to discuss these issues and an opportunity to circulate letters for those who might want to sign on. All are welcome.
There’s an oft-quoted statistic that for every letter or phone call to a public official, there’s at least 100 people who would do likewise if they had the time, energy, or know-how to do it. We’re here to help! For further information, please contact Alice Hardesty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503/206-7770; or Jim Anderson at email@example.com or 503/284-1228.
The St. Michael’s Employment Network, led by two human-resource professionals, has been meeting every Monday at noon for over two years. During that period of time, over 30 folks participating in the group have found jobs. But it’s time for a break! Monday, June 25, 2012, was the last meeting of the Employment Network for the rest of the summer.
There are three reasons leading to the decision to go on hiatus. Summer is the slowest time of year for hiring; group members need time to travel, go camping, and participate in family reunions; and then there is the good news that Portland’s unemployment rate is dropping and there are fewer people joining the ranks of the unemployed.
In September, we will reassess the need to restart the Employment Network. If unemployment continues to be an issue, we will start meetings mid-month after school is back in session and hiring again begins to rise. Employment opportunity listings, new job postings, company expansion announcements, etc., will continue to be forwarded to all group members on the email list. If you would like to be added to that list, please email Carol at the address below. And during the next two months, anyone needing assistance with his or her job search, resumés, cover letters or other employment issues should feel free to email Carol Ward at hrserv @aol.com
The following are other links that the O & J Ministries and Green Team encourage you to explore:
Episcopal Relief & Development
In conjunction with DHS, St. Michael’s has hosted its third holiday party just before Christmas 2011 for foster children and their biological parents. All had fun together with crafts, games, gifts, good food, and a picture of the family with Santa. DHS workers appreciate our help in making this a memorable annual event for families experiencing difficulties.
ESL Tutor Training
Learn to speak English for free! In our English as a Second Language (ESL) program, volunteer tutors assist students from other countries gain the confidence they need for speaking English in everyday situations. In an effort to reach more students, we implemented a more flexible program this past fall. A list of available tutors has been compiled, with a variety of times available for individual tutoring sessions. As potential students inquire, they indicate the times they are available and then are matched up with a tutor with the same time availability. By providing a variety of options, we expect to be able to reach more students. In our English as a Second Language (ESL) program, volunteer tutors assist students from other countries gain the confidence they need for speaking English in everyday situations. If you’re interested in tutoring, or for more information, contact Cathy Searls at 503/884-0067 or SearlsC@comcast.net.
Looking for Prison Ministry Volunteers
We are looking into starting a new outreach ministry with the Oregon Columbia River Correctional Facility in Northeast Portland. Two areas where the facility is expressing volunteer needs are for Religious Service Volunteers (we would be trained to come into the facility and conduct or be a part of religious activities such as Bible studies; classes; discussions; worship services, etc.) and Home for Good in Oregon program volunteers. We are looking for a group of people who would be interested in meeting with prison staff to determine next steps. If you’re interested, please contact Ron Geason.