October 24, 2018
Written by Randy Mayer
The United States is in a season of great concern over the immigration crisis and the constant rhetoric about the border wall. For nearly twenty years The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ has actively been involved in the humanitarian movement working with migrants in the desert in Southern Arizona as well as advocating for better understanding of immigration and border issues. We hosted the national UCC gathering in August called "A Faithful Witness at the Border" which brought over 100 people from across the denomination, as well as from other faith communities, to the border. This gathering gave participants a first-hand experience of a Federal Court proceeding called Operation Streamline, visited impacted communities in Nogales, Mexico, shared communion at the Border Wall, held a vigil at a Border Patrol station, walked in the desert to migrant memorials, and so much more.
The Good Shepherd is committed to experiential education and we continue to host individuals and groups that want to come to the borderlands and learn about immigration and border issues. Please contact us if you are in the area or are planning a mission trip. We also host a couple of yearly gatherings that give folks a special opportunity to experience the cost and joy of the borderlands. Consider this your open invitation to join us.
UCC Pre-Event – School of Americas Watch Border Encuentro – November 14-18, 2018
We are organizing a special UCC immersion experience on Nov 14 and 15 before the School of the Americas Watch event. This will include going to Operation Streamline, a trip to Nogales, Mexico to visit a few of the migrant shelters, as well as a desert walk to migrant memorials. Participants can then fully participate in the SOA Watch events that begin on Friday, Nov 16. SOA Watch has been a longtime advocate to stop U.S. intervention in Latin America and to close down the school where Latin American military officers receive training by the U.S. Army. In 2016, the group moved their protest to the U.S.-Mexico Border which has become an incredible gathering of workshops, songs, and action. Find more information here.
Common Ground on the Border – January 17-19, 2019
We have found the Borderlands to be the perfect place to explore the arts, touch the culture and have deeper conversations about the complicated issues that collide here. Common Ground on the Border is an annual three-day event that packs in a trip to the border, two concerts, lectures from national, regional and international scholars and activists, as well as 17 different music, art, writing and dance classes. Some of the highlights of the upcoming seventh annual gathering will be a concert by Mexican-American singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa; a conversation with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, who has a unique perspective of the border after 50 years in law enforcement; and a visit from Phoenix Attorney Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, who was instrumental in working with the Hispanic community in the case that eventually led to a guilty verdict of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In the past few years more than 25 UCC Congregations have brought groups to Common Ground on the Border. More information is available here.
The Rev. Randy Mayer is the pastor of The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz., and has been active in the borderlands for more than 20 years, providing humanitarian aid and advocating for better solutions to our border and immigration crisis.