Study Leads to Community Resources and Action in Tigard
The Holy Spirit has been working at Tigard UMC!
In the fall of 2016 Pastor Jeremy Hajdu-Paulen led a book study on America's Original Sin by Jim Wallis. After the study was over, many people felt that racism, especially systemic racism, is such a problem that Tigard UMC should form a Racial Justice group to study the issue further and find ways to address racism in our community.
One member of the study group voiced interest in hosting a Spanish as a Second Language (SSL) class at the church. The instructor of an English as a Second Language class already being offered at the church offered to lead the SSL class, and was soon joined by another teacher – a mother who brings her toddler to the Tigard UMC Play Park. She had come into the church office and said, "I love this church. I want to volunteer in some way. I come from Mexico and I am a teacher."
The class has been going for a couple of months now with about ten regular participants.
Some of the participants in the class are volunteers at a Tigard UMC ministry: Bethlehem House of Bread (BHOB) food pantry and free store. They want to communicate better with the pantry guests who speak Spanish.
Linda Dove, the pastoral director of the pantry, mentioned the class to some of the folks at the Oregon Food Bank (OFB). The OFB folks suggested that they could work with the teachers to develop a curriculum to train food bank volunteers at other OFB supported pantries.
While the SSL class was evolving, the Racial Justice group has been meeting. The group has focused on justice issues impacting the Hispanic community.
Tigard UMC is surrounded by apartment complexes. The manager of one of the complexes came to Pastor Jeremy for help. She is afraid that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will detain parents living in her complex while their children are at school. She wanted to work on ways to ensure that the children will be safe.
The apartment manager's concerns have spurred the formation of an ecumenical group in our community that is working to support our Hispanic brothers and sisters.
At a recent meeting of this ecumenical group, the SSL class was mentioned. A pastor from St. James Episcopal said that he had been looking for such a class. He noted the information about when the class meets and said that he will be sending some folks over.
Openness to learning and then to nudges from the Holy Spirit have been confirmed and supported by resources appearing as needed and by ever widening circles of response!
Story shared by Paula Sadler, member of Tigard UMC and Cascadia District Lay Leader