Executive Board hears immigration concernsby Anna Groff
Madeline Maldonado told the Executive Board that the government has deported over half of her congregation in Florida--at least 250 people.
Maldonado is co-pastor of Iglesia Menonita Arca de Salvacion (Ark of Salvation Mennonite Church) in Fort Myers, Fla., and treasurer of Iglesia Menonita Hispana (IMH).
From left: Madeline Maldonado and Juan Montes meet as representatives of Iglesia Menonita Hispana with the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board. Elizabeth Soto and Juanita Nuñez are on the right. Photo by Anna Groff.
Maldonado and Juan Montes, moderator of IMH, shared this fact and others during their meeting with the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board. The EB met on July 4—the opening day of Pittsburgh 2011.
They met with these representatives to discuss the board’s decision to hold the 2013 convention in Phoenix despite IMH’s request for a new location due to Arizona’s controversial immigration laws.
Montes, speaking on behalf of IMH, highlighted two of the 11 commitments IMH recommended to the EB. Montes asked that Mennonite Church USA reserve one quarter for focused Sunday school study on the immigration issue from a scriptural perspective. He also asked for one day per year reserved for prayer regarding immigration.
He said the study should focus on the church, not politics, and that studying the Bible regarding this issue could bring unity.
Iris de León-Hartshorn, director for transformative peacemaking, said she hears churches asking for churchwide studies such as what Montes describes.
Ervin Stutzman, executive director, suggested that these suggestions come to the delegate assembly this week.
Dick Thomas, moderator-elect, mentioned that personal experience with immigration offers the most transformation for individuals. He told of his visit to Maldonado’s church and how much he enjoyed meeting the members. Thomas said he now wonders if those he met were among those deported.
Montes and Maldonado also said the second satellite convention location in a state other than Arizona was not a good idea. Some individuals, who will not attend, Phoenix 2013, say they might feel like “second-class citizens” at another location, said Maldonado. However, she added, streaming the services in a church setting offers a better option.
Juanitz Nuñez of Iglesia Menonita Hispana and an Executive Board member said people will approach convention differently in 2013. “Something good is coming out of all this,” she said.
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