November 2014: Update from Tyler Connoley

After three months of groundwork, it feels like things are coming together. Some projects are still ongoing, but had significant turning points.

First Albuquerque Moves forward on Sanctuary
I've been very involved (along with Noel Anderson) in the conversations at First Albuquerque, and it's been a long process of educating them about Sanctuary. Their council voted to move forward with Sanctuary, and call for a congressional vote at their annual meeting in January. This has led to some difficult conversations with some of their members, so I've been supporting the pastor and council as they move into this next phase. I don't know if they'll become a Sanctuary Church, but I know the realm of God is growing because of their work on this.

Massachusetts Supports Southwest Organizations
I've been working with the Massachusetts Immigration Task Force to help them find some organizations they can connect with to offer tangible support. They chose Refugio Phoenix, a foster program for unaccompanied minors, and First Congregational Phoeinix's legal clinic, called Keep Phoenix Together. Massachusetts sent a letter to all their churches this week, and are collecting through the end of January. 

Minnesota Immersion Trip
The Minnesota Immigration Task Force is planning a trip to El Paso in January. The delegation will include several clergy and their Conference Minister. We finalized those plans the week of November 19th. 

Connecting La Roca with the Guemes Island Community
A retired pastor from Guemes Island, in Washington state, contacted me a while back, asking how his community could support something happening in the Southwest. On November 20th, I visited a shelter in Nogales Mexico called La Roca that serves migrants from Central America, and it looks like the folks in Guemes Island are going to partner with that project for ongoing financial and moral support. 

Volunteer Placed at Casas Adobes
Mary Schaller Blaufuss and I have been working to find placements for two volunteers who want to spend three months in the Southwest. After much back-and-forth, it looks like we're going to place one of them at Casas Adobes in Tucson, so she can support the work they're doing in Nogales with HEPAC. The other volunteer is very close to being placed, as well. 

Help for Maria
This was a small project that only took a day, but I think it was made possible by all the prep work I've done for the past three months. I also think it will bear more fruit in the future, because of a connection I made with Brookmeade Congregational in Nashville. Maria was a migrant who came through Yuma, and moved on to Nashville. Pastor Alberta called me, because Maria had contacted her and needed some help getting to a court hearing on November 19th. After a little research, I was able to connect Maria with Brookmeade, a UCC church in Nashville that has an immigration lawyer and a retired immigration social worker as members. This church has not been on our radar before now, so I'm looking forward to connecting them with the Immigrant Welcoming Network. 

Immigrant Welcoming Network
I've been working on an idea for how to build this network within the UCC, and am at a place where I will be making a concrete proposal for moving forward with this important task.

Shadow Rock UCC takes Sanctuary Case
I was only tangentially involved in this case, but was excited to see it come together. Unfortunately, Misael, the man in Sanctuary, is not eligible for deferred action under the President's executive order, so this will require some ongoing advocacy and support from our churches.

The Rev. Tyler Connoley 
UCC Southwest Conference Immigrant Care Coordinator