Due to ruling, chance of meeting in Phoenix may increaseby Anna Groff
One day before Arizona's immigration law was scheduled to go into effect, dynamics changed. On July 28, Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court blocked the most controversial elements of the bill.
So what does this mean for the decision of whether or not to hold the Mennonite Church USA Convention 2013 in Phoenix?
While the decision is still in process, Glen Guyton (pictured), associate executive director of constituent resources, said the possibility of meeting in Phoenix in 2013 may have increased.
"I am not exactly sure what this means for the location of our convention in 2013," he said on July 28, "but Judge Bolton's injunction does seem to increase the possibility that Mennonite Church USA may be able meet in Phoenix in 2013 to be a witness and to continue to speak out for the stranger in our land."
This decision does not change the focus of the delegation to Arizona Aug. 12-14, he said.
"I have said all along the convention location is only one decision that the church needs to make," he said. "Phoenix has given our church a unique opportunity to work at our priority of anti-racism in new and meaningful ways. We have a long way to go, but I am extremely optimistic since many of the most troubling parts of the Arizona law are on hold. It is very important that we continue to listen to our Latino community."
Yvonne Diaz, director of Iglesia Menonita Hispana, said this ruling is a "step in the right direction" but added that she doesn't think this issue is over. IMH has opposed Phoenix as convention site.
"It's still important that [the delegation goes] and talks with each other and the officials,” she said on July 28. "We want to be creative ... this is not just about Latinos and this law. It’s about all of us as a church community and what one part of the family is experiencing and how the rest of the family can be supportive."
Diaz (pictured) said she plans to wait and see what develops after this ruling. "Will [this ruling] make people dig in their heels deeper? Racial profiling is happening whether the law exists or not. ... People have very, very strong feelings, and I doubt they are going to give up this easily, unfortunately," she said.
On Aug. 12, the delegation plans to meet with local religious leaders and Latino organizations at the Phoenix convention center. On Aug. 13, they will meet with city officials, including the Phoenix police chief, assistant city manager and vice mayor. Following this is a time of discussion with local Mennonites at Trinity Mennonite Church, Glendale, Ariz., in partnership with Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference.
In 2003, Mennonite Church USA delegates passed an immigration statement that says, "We reject our country's mistreatment of immigrants, repent of our silence, and commit ourselves to act with a on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, regardless of their legal status."
As of July 28, the delegation members are as follows:
Iglesia Menonita Hispana representatives: Nicolas Angustia, Yvonne Diaz, Madeline Maldonado, Juan Montes, Jesús Muñoz
Intercultural Relations Reference Committee members: Leslie Francisco III, Kuaying Teng
EB members: Ed Diller, Dick Thomas, Tina Begay, Charlotte Hardt, Juanita
Nuñez, Elizabeth Soto Albrecht (undecided as of July 28)
Mennonite Church USA staff: Ervin Stutzman, Glen Guyton, Marty Lehman, Susan Mark Landis, Rachel Swartzendruber Miller
Racial Healing Task Group representative: Lloyd Miller
Other: Marc Hershberger (pastor), Saulo Padilla (director of immigration education office Mennonite Central Committee U.S.) and Gilberto Flores (conference minister)
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