Conference holding April summit to keep moving immigration issues forward


Photo by Paul Jeffrey. The Rev. Jorge Rodriguez, a United Methodist pastor, leads participants in song at a rally outside a federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon. Participants protested the Trump administration's policy of separating parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
While some churches and faith communities in the Oregon-Idaho Conference are deeply embedded in immigration and migrant family support, others are just starting to dip their congregation’s toes in the water.

That’s why the Conference is hosting a summit on April 2 at Woodburn United Methodist Church from 10 to 4 p.m. to listen, learn and hopefully move churches to act on issues of faith, welcoming neighbors and understanding immigration issues families face in this area of the country.

“This is a place that we can come out of isolation to create a stronger connection of people in our congregations who can be mobilized for hope,” said Natalia Olivares, immigration ministry intern for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

The Conference is partnering with Oregon’s Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ) to hold the one-day summit.

The goal, according to organizers is to deepen relationships, strategize around what issues may be on the horizon as well as strengthening the immigrant justice movement in Oregon and across The United Methodist Church.

Olivares said they’ll look at everything from access to driver’s licenses for immigrants to getting participants ready for a legislative day of action in Salem. But a big component of the summit, she hopes, will be storytelling.

“We’ll look at how we fit into the story (of immigrants) and looking at it in a different way than we have before,” she said.

Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, said similar conferences have been held over the years by the Idaho Office for Refugees with some United Methodist Churches in Idaho participating.

“Whether you are new to this issue or know a lot about it already, as Christians and Methodists, it is critical for us to ground ourselves in our principles, examine our current realities, and decide what actions are most appropriate for us to take in order to live out our faith,” he said. “I hope that every church will send a team of people to do this important relational work, so that we can learn better how to love our neighbors.”

Related Stories: