Thursday, December 17, 2009

Immigration issues are affecting some Brethren congregations.

Immigration issues are affecting several Church of the Brethren congregations and members, according to Ruben Deoleo, director of Intercultural Ministries. "This is a situation that our church is living right now, right here, with people that are members of the church," he reported.

Legal proceedings such as deportations have been carried out against some Brethren members in specific congregations over the past several months. Deoleo estimates that around five congregations are being affected across the denomination. He is not naming the congregations and affected members because it may make the legal situation more difficult for them, he said.

In one recent case, a woman who is a leader in a Church of the Brethren congregation in North Carolina, in Southeastern District, was detained in October and has now been deported to Honduras. The stated cause for her deportation is that "she did not follow on some documentation that she said was never received at their residence," Deoleo said. "Her husband and children also are active in the church, he is responsible for the church's program and media and his older son is the keyboard player."

"Some of this situation is also happening at the other side of the country, in California," Deoleo said. In June, a Pacific Southwest District pastor informed Deoleo that several people from the congregation had been detained and were in the process of being deported. The pastor also shared "that some people of her congregation want to come to the Conference (in San Diego in June), but their fear to travel two hours, and the possibility that the police stop them and ask for documents, blocked the desire to be at Annual Conference," Deoleo said.

Brethren who live in rural areas where there is a lot of agricultural work are those experiencing the most immigration issues, Deoleo said. He mentioned California, North Carolina, and Virlina District as the areas where Brethren are most affected.

This fall, Deoleo was part of an ecumenical meeting of denominational staff for Hispanic ministries, where immigration was one of the topics. The group represented several Christian denominations and had a chance to "openly share how they have been affected by the deportation process," he said.

"I’m looking forward to the day when the Church of the Brethren unites in support of the congregations" that are being affected by immigration issues, Deoleo said, adding encouragement for a new church statement on the issue. "There are lots of people working on those issues right now."

An Annual Conference statement made in 1982 is the current Church of the Brethren statement on immigration. Titled, "Statement Addressing the Concern of Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States," it is online at

Among Christian denominations and organizations that recently have made statements on immigration are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which on Nov. 14 issued a new social policy resolution, "Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform" ( The National Association of Evangelicals also recently made a resolution in support of immigration reform and compassion for immigrant families ( Church World Service this week issued a statement welcoming the introduction of a new comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House of Representatives, titled "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009."

Source: 12/17/2009 Newsline

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